July 7 was the date five Dallas police officers, including two DART officers, were gunned down by a mad sniper with military training during what was to be a peaceful demonstration, as the city watched, waited and cried in horror.
CBS-11’s I-Team is now reporting something I had heard bits of during my campaign for City Council, but had not confirmed: the officers assigned to the July 7 “Black Lives Matter” rally in downtown Dallas – where five were killed and nine wounded – were told by city officials not to wear certain heavy protective gear because it would make them look too “militaristic.”
“They were told not to wear their heavy gear,” which, if worn, may have “stopped some of those rounds,” Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, told the I-Team.
Mata, in an exclusive interview, said that, while all of the officers were believed to have been wearing standard-issued protective vests, many had with them better protective gear – stronger, thicker body armor and helmets – but had to keep them in their patrol vehicles.
“They didn’t want the police department to look militaristic to the community, look aggressive, incite any type of trouble,” he said.
The order, says Mata, is believed to have come from former police Chief David Brown.
Mata told the I-Team the protective gear and rifles left in patrol vehicles that night may have saved lives and prevented severe injuries.
“A lot of those shots, and a lot of those wounds …were chest shots, lower abdomen wound shots, and those heavy vests would have covered them,” he said.
Dallas police officers have been buying their own protective gear. On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council agreed to a 1.025 billion bond. It breaks down like this:
Streets — $500 million
Parks and trails — $178 million
District-specific funds — $84.8 million
City facilities —$82 million
Flood protection — $65 million
Economic development and housing — $65 million
Fair Park — $50 million
I want to know where police protection is — for Dallas Jack Evans Police Headquarters, for more protective gear. Here is what the mayor said in response to the investigative report — the same mayor who fought the state’s efforts to save the Dallas Police and Fire pension fund this spring, the same mayor who was ready to dump their pension plan:
“The Dallas Police Department has taken numerous steps to better protect our officers since the unprecedented ambush attack on July 7, 2016, both through the purchase of equipment and thanks to generous donations from the community. Cost is not and should not be a barrier in our effort to safeguard our city’s protectors.
Regarding Dallas police facility upgrades, I continue to be frustrated with the slow pace of those enhancements. It’s been more than two years since the shooting at Jack Evans Police Headquarters and we should have completed more work there and at our seven patrol stations by now. City Manager T.C. Broadnax has made this a top priority since he took over and the process finally appears to be moving along thanks to him and his revamped team.”
I wish this news had come out before the election. Former Chief Brown, who resigned in October and pulled his DROP money out of the pension before the fund’s troubles were publicized, moved to New York to complete his book on the police massacre in our city, a book he is now busy promoting. He lent his support to my opponent, Lee Kleinman, who holds first defenders in contempt and blames them for the demise of their pension. His favorite hashtag from the campaign was #nobailout. He told the Dallas Morning News he wanted to dump the old pension and create a new one. He was not concerned about leaving 10,000 retirees with zero pension (police and fire do not pay into nor receive social security). He practically sneered when he mentioned police or fire:
“They spilt their milk,” he said publicly during one early forum. “It’s not up to the taxpayers to bail them out.
But Kleinman’s good friend, Brown, can send these men and women out into a potentially violent situation and order them to leave assault rifles and protective gear behind, all for the sake of image?
This story makes me sick. I am embarrassed for our leadership in District 11. I am embarrassed for our city and it’s lack of leadership and decency. The only thing that makes me feel a glimpse of hope is that we now have a better city council, and progress can be made until 2019, when I can fight harder for the seat I lost.