Dallas police announce discipline for 22 former vice unit members

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The Dallas Police Department announced Wednesday that it had disciplined 22 former vice unit members for misusing money and improperly handling evidence seized in gambling stings, but found insufficient evidence to charge any unit members with crimes, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The department said in a news release that the former vice unit detectives and their supervisors received suspensions without pay ranging from three to 20 days.

The three-year investigation found that between 2014 and 2017, the unit seized some 4,000 gambling machines, $852,166 in cash and other items, the newspaper reported.

Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall disbanded the vice unit in 2017, after questions arose about its methods, and requested a review by the internal affairs unit.

The Morning News obtained a 700-page investigation report that said the vice unit has long needed more oversight and training on documenting evidence and case management.

But Dallas Police Association leaders said officers received unjust punishments, and they expect whistleblower and employment discrimination lawsuits to come.

DPA President Mike Mata said the discipline was harsh for the violations that occurred. He told the Morning News that the suspensions were given to “justify shutting down a unit.”

“What would substantiate such a variation in discipline?” he asked. “And if it was such an issue of integrity and trustworthiness for the public, then why did it take three years?”

Dallas City Council member Cara Mendelsohn wrote Wednesday that taking three years to complete the investigation “is not effective management or leadership.”

“We need to improve this process and hold ourselves accountable for swift correction of inappropriate actions to instill confidence in the community and integrity in the department,” she wrote.

Hall said in a statement Wednesday that “though not popular, these actions were necessary to create a more efficient department and bring us closer to our goals as a world-class department.”     

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