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Improving Police-Community Relations, Working for Racial and Economic Justice in Dallas

Our parish, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, in Dallas, has been working together with other faith institutions for many years to build relationships with law enforcement and improve policing in our communities. With Dallas Area Interfaith (DAI), which brings together faith leaders to collaborate on areas of common concern, we successfully worked to get several hundred additional officers on the streets who are trained in community policing and de-escalation strategies. Because of our pre-existing relationship with law enforcement, when the July 2016 shooting of police officers occurred at a peaceful march, we were prepared to respond immediately, bringing interfaith leaders and law enforcement together to pray, reflect, and demonstrate their commitment to collaboration. Our efforts on racial justice go beyond our work on policing; we also seek to improve access to healthcare, and end predatory payday loans, for example. Our parish DAI leadership group, which is made up of both Hispanic and Anglo parishioners, previously worked with the Mexican Consulate and Catholic Charities to obtain identification cards, ormatriculas, for undocumented parishioners, so their children could attend schools and they could open bank accounts, sign apartment rentals, complete DACA registrations, etc. We are currently working with a predominantly Hispanic parish, San Juan Diego, and other members of Dallas Area Interfaith, to seek modifications to the City of Dallas housing code, which has not been updated in thirty years, in order to improve the unhealthy living environments that characterize many low-income apartment buildings in our city. We see all of these efforts as connected, and each of them essential to giving “legs” to our desire for peace in our communities.