White Dallas cop on furlough after making coin Black Police Association says it’s racist

A white Dallas police officer is on administrative leave as the department investigates allegations he has leveled and attempted to sell a challenge coin that the Black Police Association labeled as racist.

Chief Eddie García said during a news conference on Wednesday that the officers’ design for the South Central Patrol Division coin stained the division. He apologized to the community. Police have said south Dallas is a priority, something they reiterated after two mass shootings there this spring.

“I don’t feel like it,” García said. “It’s not going through on my watch. We have a standard with the Dallas Police Department. I won’t let anyone stain that and tarnish our badge and what we do.

“If there is a culture problem here, I will change it or I will die trying,” he added.

Terrance Hopkins, president of the Black Police Association, said he was extremely concerned that some people saw the coin and did not mark it.

On one side, the coin shows a drug house and an altered image of the Pillsbury Doughboy, who has gold teeth and is holding money and a gun. Hopkins said the image refers to a drug dealer named Doughboy from the movie Boyz n the Hood.

The words “Big ‘T’ Plaza” are scattered across the center of the coin, which Hopkins said refers to a Dallas mall frequented by black customers. A police car stands on one side of the coin, opposite a purple car that Hopkins says has gold rims and large wheels and is similar to vehicles driven by black people in the area. The coin also featured police figures pointing to south Dallas.

The frontside of the coin depicts a Dallas Police Badge with the words “South Central” and “15 years” along the top and bottom.

The South Central Division covers the southern parts of Dallas, including the east and southeast of Oak Cliff, and parts of Red Bird. It includes the area between State Highway 67 to Interstate 45.

A screenshot from a Facebook post – which was shared in a group for members of the Dallas Police Association – said the coin was created in honor of the 15th anniversary of the South Central Patrol Division.

Mike Mata, the head of the Dallas Police Association, said he knew nothing about the mail until someone pointed it out to him. He said it was “removed immediately”.

Mata shared the message he sent to members of the Dallas Police Association. He wrote that “when a person or organization makes an error of judgment or makes a mistake, they must recognize it in order to move forward.” He said he believes the coin and message were made of bad taste and “had no business on the DPA member page.”

“I understand it is my responsibility to uphold the moral compass of the DPA member page,” Mata wrote. “I would like to apologize to anyone who has been hurt or offended by the post and I promise to be more diligent in my duties to ensure that this organization and the media sites within it respect all members.”

The author of the Facebook post asked for $10 for each coin and said the coins could be delivered in the first week of October. Those interested in purchasing a coin can pay through Venmo. It is not clear how many coins were sold.

The officer whose Venmo was on the list, Caleb McCollum, could not be reached for comment. Records show he is assigned to the Southwest Patrol Division. His Venmo account shows payments for various coins, also for other patrol areas. A person who bought “3x SC Coins” got their money back on Tuesday, the bill shows.

“Officers and the community are asking questions,” Hopkins said. “Those questions are, ‘Is this the way white cops see us in our community? Is this the only view they have of black people?’ There are too many good things happening in the Southern community for this to be the only way some people see us.”

Coin Challenge

García said the post was removed as soon as it was brought to the attention of the commanders. He said commanders found out late Tuesday. It was unclear when information about the coin was first posted or if images appeared elsewhere.

García described a challenge coin as a commemorative coin often depicting police forces and “something memorable.” He said they are usually a source of pride and that there is a process “how to establish a challenge coin that is appropriate”, which he said police will investigate as part of the investigation. Other agencies and groups also produce Challenge Coins.

He said the officer had to stop immediately so he doesn’t believe any coins were made. He said the officer involved will be treated responsibly and promptly. He didn’t work out.

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia, right, listens to Terrance Hopkins (center left),...
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia, right, listens to Terrance Hopkins (center left), president of the Black Police Association, as he criticized a Dallas police officer who made a challenge coin and tried to sell what he said was racist during a press conference Wednesday at the Black Police Association headquarters in Dallas.(Kelli Smith / staff photographer /)

“We’re hiring from the human race,” the chief said. “I don’t think there’s a police chief in America who sits down here and tells you they don’t have cops with this mentality. It’s what a department does, what a community does, in response to it…that’s the standard we’re held to.”

Dallas police officers have faced criticism related to racial insensitivity in the past. In 2019, four officers were placed on furlough and more than 20 others were investigated after researchers with The Plain View Project published a database of years of public service positions held by officers in eight departments, including Dallas.

Of the 5,000 posts, more than 300 were from Dallas officers on active duty at the time. The posts contain Islamophobic comments, racial stereotypes and jokes about police brutality. At least 13 Dallas officers were later disciplined under then-chief U. Reneé Hall.

More recently, police expressed their priority for southern Dallas after a spate of gunfire there earlier this year, including a mass shooting at a concert and another at a party. García said at the time that officers had been through the area not only to stamp out the crime, but also to instill positivity.

García said on Wednesday that the officer’s actions with the coin “affect us all”.

“We are sometimes our own worst enemy,” said García. “I’ve been to the community, I’ve seen our honorable men and women give their lives and passion to our residents regardless of this wonderfully diverse city we have here.”

‘He should be gone’

Councilors Tennell Atkins and Carolyn King Arnold, whose districts include parts of South Dallas, spoke with the chief, Hopkins and other police and fire chiefs during the press conference on Wednesday to reject the coin.

Atkins said the officer should be fired. He said the coin betrayed residents and he now has to think about what to tell people if they ask if they can trust the South Central Patrol Division or a person in uniform. Hopkins, the president of the Black Police Association, also said he doesn’t think the officer belongs to the police.

“He should be gone,” Atkins said of the cop. “We cannot tolerate this.”

Arnold said she was also troubled that this was happening after years of neighborhood policing and efforts to strengthen the bond between police and the community. She said the link with this coin has been severed.

“Obviously we still have a culture that we need to address,” she said. “Right now in the city of Dallas, we are focused on racial equality, to remove some of the systemic practices that have existed with us for years. And so today is a day for us to re-evaluate where we are going.”

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