The next Dallas police chief

Unfortunately, Dallas has hit a grim milestone: For the second-straight year, the city has recorded more than 200 murders.

This year’s tally will almost certainly surpass 2019’s year-end total of 209 murders, which was a 12-year high. In addition, non-family violence aggravated assaults are up this year by more than 31% over where they stood last year. And family violence aggravated assaults, perhaps driven by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, are up nearly 11% year-to-date.

These trends are deeply troubling. While violent crime has also risen elsewhere in the country, the increases in aggravated assaults in particular are far outpacing the national trends. This is unacceptable, and everyone must work together to turn these numbers around. That is why it’s so important that the Task Force on Safe Communities recommendations are implemented — and why it’s great to see that the plans are quickly moving ahead to improve outdoor lighting in high-violence locations.

But robust law enforcement is vital, too. And the police department needs new leadership.

To be clear, I do not get to hire the next police chief. That’s the city manager’s job under the City Charter.

Much is at stake in his hiring decision. I believe strongly that Dallas deserves an experienced leader who can reduce violent crime and instill a culture of community policing and accountability. This person needs to be an effective communicator with a buck-stops-here mentality. The chief should take it personally that crime is up in Dallas and not make excuses or try to shift the blame.

The city manager has hired a search firm to identify candidates. The position is now posted, and here is a portion of the job description:

“While this is an incredible opportunity to lead one of the nation’s top law enforcement agencies, this moment comes at a time of historic social awakening about systemic racism, the role of police, political unrest, and a worldwide pandemic. Top candidates must be ready to provide contemporary police expertise in anti-violence initiatives and strategies to lessen the tensions that accompany First Amendment expression. Successful candidates will have an exceptional career history in a major metropolitan area and will be known for their engaging, confident, yet personable style. The next chief will also have a vision for policing in the City of Dallas that builds on reforms that have been completed or are underway. The DPD has a $557 million budget and is allocated more than 3,000 sworn officers and 600 civilian employees, who provide police services to the Dallas community. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated experience building a culture of continuous improvement and accountability. They will be forward-thinking, focused, and driven to ensure department policies and actions are consistent with the best policing practices appropriate in today’s world.”

It will be critical to have real community input in the process, as I have made clear to the city manager. You should have a say in this process.

You can give your thoughts on leadership qualities, departmental priorities and professional qualifications by taking a survey at this link or calling 214–671–5190.

Please, take a few minutes to give your feedback. Your city government should be responsive to your needs. The survey won’t take long, and question 11 is your opportunity to write whatever you’d like!

After completing the survey, feel free to reply to this email with any thoughts you’d like to share with me about what kind of police chief Dallas needs.

And hopefully, the community will have another chance to be involved once the finalists are selected.

Thank you for working to make Dallas a better, safer city.

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