New Report: Low-Level Arrests in Dallas Are Decreasing, but Concerning Racial Disparities Persist

Policing News 05.25,23

Contact: Dena Craig, [email protected]

Dallas and national advocates urge city council action

DALLAS — The Dallas Office of Community Police Oversight (OCPO), Dallas Action, and The Leadership Conference Education Fund today released a report — “A Second Look: An Analysis of Persisting Disparities in Dallas Misdemeanor Arrests” as a follow-up to a 2021 report that The Education Fund co-authored with OCPO. That report analyzed the disproportionate enforcement of misdemeanors on the city’s Black and Brown residents.

“A Second Look” reviews arrest data between 2018 and 2022, analyzing the change implemented by the Dallas Police Department in spring 2021: the de-enforcement of marijuana possession of 2 ounces or less. The report’s findings are urgent. Even though marijuana is used at similar rates across racial groups, 69 percent of the people arrested in Dallas for 2 ounces or less of marijuana possession were Black, even though Black people make up only 24 percent of Dallas residents.

The report urges the Dallas City Council to take action to:

  • Minimize police interaction with low-level, nonviolent misdemeanors, including marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession
  • Expand the marijuana possession de-enforcement policy to reflect the district attorney’s practice of de-enforcement of 4 ounces or less
  • Codify the police department’s marijuana possession policy to ensure its permanence, regardless of police leadership changes

“While de-enforcement certainly had an impact, the city has work to do to end racial disparities in their arrests,” said Bree Spencer, senior director of the justice program at The Leadership Conference Education Fund. “By taking the policy recommendations in this report seriously, the city of Dallas can work to build trust and demonstrate how critical community input is to achieving public safety.”

“This report demonstrates what local Dallas residents already know to be true, despite recent reporting to the contrary — the Dallas Police Department still has a lot of room to improve,” said Tamara Neal, community organizer. “One thing we know for sure, misdemeanor arrests and low-level, nonviolent offenses have nothing to do with reducing violent crime in the city and making our community safer. That’s why the city council, city managers, and the Dallas Police Department should work to actually end disparities and codify the de-enforcement of low-level, nonviolent misdemeanors.”

The report is available to read here.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal and state policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit