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The U.S. police force was under fire in 2016, largely in part for the seemingly constant killings of unarmed black men. The controversy led communities to boil with anger and confusion, while some chose retaliation in the same manner, firing at officers and slaying many.

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There are undoubtedly many questions to be asked, and many opinions on how such unnecessary killings can be ended. Officer Nick Novello, 62, a serving officer with 34 years on the beat in Dallas, had some valuable input.

Back in July of 2016, Novello accused his police chief David Brown of failing the public. He said Brown paved the path for his police team to wallow in low morale, suffer from long shifts, and work for  insufficient pay. Novello said the police chief was guilty of “grandstanding” in his public appeal to put more young black men on his police team. Novello also noted that the Dallas Police Department was at an incredulous low, with many disillusioned members serving the public

Brown’s response to black protestors demonstrating on his city’s streets was an invitation. He said: “We’re hiring. We’ll give you an application. We’ll help you resolve some of the problems you’re protesting about. And we’ll put you in your neighborhood …”

But Novello brought up a good point:

If he wants them to sign up, he had better stop criminalizing them for things like having small amounts of marijuana.

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Some officers fit people up by arresting them for being intoxicated when they refuse to show their IDs and that leads to a criminal record and difficulties in finding a job.

Officers are under pressure to reach targets. There has to be an end to the arrest and ticket quota that exists within the Dallas Police Department.

I am sick and tired of the public face of togetherness the chief puts on when he knows there’s a lot of bad feeling behind the scenes.

Novello called out policing for revenue as the main culprit behind the police department’s downfall, as it puts the most important issues on the back burner. And creating a work environment motivated by power over the people creates force that is serving to achieve status over serving to protect.

Novello said:

There is a lot of anger out there that we have an inability to police ourselves and we will protect a rogue cop as a police department. . . . 

A lot of the black community are supportive of the police and that is wonderful, but a large number say police departments cannot police themselves.

Not only can’t we police ourselves, sometimes we go out of our way to protect the predator cop.

In my estimation the quota system is corrupt. You are telling the officer who has a great deal of power that he is required to exercise that and generate funds for the city. Arrests generate money.

As a beat cop, I see the computer, I see the calls holding, I see the inability to dispatch and deal with real time needs.

Brown’s apparent disinterest in the well-being of his team, which has been compromised by long hours, low pay, and understaffing, ultimately led the Black Police Association of Dallas, the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, the National Latino Law Enforcement Organization’s Dallas chapter, and the Dallas Police Association to stand up to Brown, urging for him to resign. Brown stayed steadfast in his decision to lead the team, however, leading to overwhelming resentment among the officers.

Novello said, “We are vastly understaffed. ‘Last month we lost 48-50 officers, which is unheard of. One officer left to go drive a Coca-Cola truck. Another who was 43 years old retired after 14 years saying, ‘I’m out, I’m out.’ Morale is very low.”

Many officers left the force, already frustrated over their work conditions and now distraught over the trauma of losing five of their members in an unfathomable slaughter. But Novello said the understaffing cannot go on, and there is only one way to get people back:

If we can’t man the streets, the only viable solution would be that we embrace the assistance of the national guard or some federal agency to help us police the streets of Dallas.

It would be very unpalatable because it would mean the loss of state city sovereignty. . . .

As a police officer I can look you in the eye and say “We have got your back, we are out there patrolling”… but no we are not.

I can recall a number of days when I went to detail in the morning and there might have been seven of us there and after they have put officers on special assignment, there was one or two police officers for the whole district.

Novello urged that his decision to speak up was not motivated by a desire to bring his chief down, but merely to make things better for everyone. He noted that honesty regarding the reality of the force is more important than him keeping his job. And if he were to be terminated, he said: “I believe it would give me a platform to speak. Anything I speak about … I can prove everything I say.”

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