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Government/Politics

Lawmaker Says More Can Be Done To Bridge The Divide Between Police And African-Americans

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In the wake of a shootout that took the lives of five Dallas police officers, Democratic State Sen. Royce West is urging fellow legislators and Gov. Greg Abbott to do more to bridge the cultural divide between police and Texas’ African-American community. 

He and his staff attended Thursday night’s protest march in downtown Dallas and were three blocks away when a gunman began shooting at police in the crowd.

“I’m not going to sit back and tell you that what occurred in Baton Rouge and  right outside of St. Paul isn’t troubling to me it is, because it adds to that narrative that black lives don’t matter.  But by the same token we need to make certain that we allow the process to play itself out in terms of the investigation ,” West says.

West’s 2015 law provides local police departments additional funding and resources to outfit officers with body cameras, something he hopes will usher in a new level of transparency when police shootings occur.

“Before we had this level of transparency it was a police officer’s word against a citizen’s word and obviously police officers are given more credibility than citizens.  But now it is being played out in a more transparent matter with the use of video,” West explains.

It is a idea that West says he supports, but he also plans to expand the level of transparency police departments and district attorneys are expected to have in Texas when someone dies at the hands of a police officer during the 2017 legislative session.