Law enforcement gets a lot wrong. But here's what the Dallas Police got right.

Five officers were killed in a shooting in one of the nation's model police departments.

On July 7, 2016, 12 Dallas Police Department officers were shot along with a civilian who had marched in a Black Lives Matter protest.

Five of those officers were killed.


Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images.

This news came at the end of a dim week in American history.

The Dallas shooting arrived on the heels of intense talks of the impact of gun violence in communities across the country and two high-profile police killings of black men Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The number of civilian deaths by police officers this year has now surpassed 560 people.

All of this obviously demands a number of questions but especially:

What are we getting wrong? And is anyone trying to get it right?

Statistically speaking, the DPD actually was getting some stuff right.

Police chief David Brown has made some major strides in improving police engagement with communities of color through what some would call unconventional tactics (by former police standards).

And although the department is not perfect by any stretch, the DPD has actually become a model institution for many large, city-based police departments around the nation, especially those that struggle with civilian claims of excessive police violence, staggering homicide rates, and a large number of civilian deaths by cops. Most impressively, from 2009 to 2014, excessive force complaints were down a whopping 64% in Dallas, a statistic that should be applauded.

The reforms took a major overhaul, but a few key elements really started getting the job done. Here are some of the bright points:

1. They added new crime-fighting techniques to their department, all aimed at helping people in the community.

Under the direction of Brown, the DPD has implemented new techniques, including training on how to de-escalate high-stress situations. Professions such as therapy and nursing typically require their employees to learn de-escalating, or reducing the intensity of a situation, but police don't generally learn these skills.

Because police have long been taught to use force, the idea of backing off might seem ridiculous to some officers — but Dallas is proving that it actually works. Not only did these new skills help reduce homicide rates, but they also helped with the drop in excessive force complaints in recent years.


2. They've worked toward being transparent with people.

Again, they're not perfect, but they've tried really hard. After Brown met with White House officials in June to discuss police transparency, the Dallas police released information about the police force and shootings to everyone in their community.

According to the report, they used force more than 2,200 times last year. Of those instances, 11 shootings involved officers while the rest included situations where suspects were taken to the ground by officers, tasered, or hit with a baton.

With this information release came an opportunity to start a conversation in the community about how to be better. And that's really important.

3. They have been open to change.

As frustration and violence increased, the leaders of the department have reportedly become more accepting of constructive criticism. In a op-ed for The Dallas Morning News, Brown explained:

"We are by no means perfect; there is plenty of room for criticism. We continue to be open to changing policies, training and community engagement. My biggest hope is that I am holding true to what I told that police recruiter: 'I want to serve the community, sir.'"


Brown speaks after five officers were killed. Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images.

It seems that the relationship between the DPD and communities of color, while strained, showed signs of progress during recent years, too. Witness accounts from the Black Lives Matter protests are evidence of that.




4. While evidence is still coming out about the assailant(s) in the Dallas shooting, Brown made it very clear during a press conference that militarizing his police staff isn't an option.

"We are not going to let a coward who would ambush police officers change our democracy," he said.

Overall, our criminal justice system is flawed.

Highly flawed. Incredibly, incredibly flawed.

Black Lives Matter protestors are fighting against violence, not for it. Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images.

Communities of color live in fear of heightened homicide rates. Black men are especially susceptible to being killed by police in contrast to their white counterparts. Black people have higher incarceration rates. And our history with law enforcement in America is bleak.

But a willingness to change in law enforcement could help us improve.

As we mourn with the DPD, it's important to remember that there aren't just two sides to these issues.

Many have pitted Black Lives Matter activists and officers against each other this week, but the fact is that most folks in each group want the same thing: peace.

Honoring black people and cops isn't mutually exclusive: You can respect the lives of police while also recognizing the concerns and heartache of black Americans. And acknowledging the fact the police brutality is real and needs reform doesn't mean that you can't respect and appreciate police.

And while our police system needs improving, the DPD's recent record is an example of what happens when people in power listen carefully.

It shows us that when people in power react swiftly instead of dragging their feet and put their citizens over the set status quo, change is actually possible.

So this week, as we're mourning black people killed unjustly along with innocent officers killed in the line of duty, we should remember that the DPD is by no means perfect.

But they are an example of what it means to try to move toward progress however you can. And they're an example of what more departments should be doing, too.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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