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Dallas Approves $160M for Police Equipment

City

Dallas Police Headquarters | Image by NBC DFW

Dallas City Council approved several resolutions to allocate nearly $160 million of tax-payer funds to acquire new police equipment during its last meeting of the year on December 14.

The City of Dallas has entered a new cooperative agreement with Motorola Solutions Inc. for additional radio and subscription services.

This new agreement fixes the costs of these new services and technologies at just over $30 million.

The City Council had previously contracted with Motorola for “system maintenance and support of a replacement citywide radio system” in 2017 and the acquisition of equipment for over $66 million. The council then authorized increases to the master agreement with Motorola in both 2020 and early 2022, raising the total contract cost to over $74 million.

The council also authorized the purchase of licenses for body-worn, in-car, and interview room camera systems, electronic control weapons, cloud storage, and associated software and hardware for the Dallas Police Department (DPD) with Axon Enterprise, Inc. through the Sourcewell cooperative agreement. Axon Enterprises produces public safety technology for police, such as tasers, drones, cameras, and software.

This purchasing agreement sets the maximum cost of these items as $134,756,800.67.

From these two agenda items alone, the city of Dallas will spend an excess of $160 million of tax-payer funds on new police equipment. These cooperative purchasing agreements will go into effect immediately.

Motorola has additionally been working with the DPD and Safer Dallas as part of the “Starlight” initiative.

This initiative was started in 2019 and allowed police to use state-of-the-art software and camera systems for crime reduction efforts at retail outlets, convenience stores, and gas stations.

The software embedded in the system also allowed police the ability to recognize anomalies that could indicate a crime, effectively allowing a “virtual patrol.” These abnormalities include situations such as a camera being tampered with and sudden movements by individuals in view of the camera.

“Technology encourages faster decision-making and makes you aware of what’s happening in real time. The ultimate goal is to protect the public while making interventions more effective by providing much-needed information before they arrive at the scene”, said Reneé Hall, former police chief of the DPD 2019.

Some concern exists, however, regarding the nature of the increased surveillance by the Dallas Police Department after more than 600 hours of aerial surveillance footage taken by the DPD from helicopters leaked in 2021.

The footage included recordings of crowds at the state fair in Fair Park as well as scenes from protests that occurred in the city. Additionally, the DPD surveillance included “Large sections of the video shows random surveillance of Dallas neighborhoods, with highly detailed and zoomed-in images of people in their front yards, standing by their cars and sunbathing.”

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