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The Roy Faires Collection - Police Academy Graduation (1988)

Austin History Center

Sound | 1988

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  •  Interview with officer T. M. Shipp of Class 199 
  •  A member of Class 199 delivers a speech 
  •  Police Chief Billy Prince takes the lecturn, thanking the five City Council members who attended the event. He had been at odds with the Council over proposed changes to the Police Department. Prince ultimately resigned in April 1988 amid rising controversy over the shooting of black individuals by police officers. 
 
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This unedited news footage documents a graduation luncheon celebrating Class 199 of the Dallas Police Department. Likely shot in 1988, the film captures the unease and controversy surrounding the department at the time. Following a number of police shootings of black individuals—including the fatal shootings of Etta Collins in October 1986 and David Horton in May 1987—the Dallas City Council began calling for department reforms. (According to the Dallas Times Herald, in 1986 Dallas ranked first among 11 major cities in its use of deadly force.) Police Chief Billy Price, backed by the police union, opposed making the recommended changes. Tensions escalated after the fatal shooting of officer John Glenn Chase in January 1988. Amid early reports that onlookers encouraged the assailant, Carl Williams, to shoot, Prince publicly remarked that criticism of the department contributed to the officer’s death. Notwithstanding the continued disagreement over police reforms, the City Council implemented an affirmative action hiring plan in early 1988 to make the department better reflect the city’s racial makeup. Price ultimately resigned from his position in April 1988 after serving as chief for six years.