Dallas' next police chief, no matter who he or she might be, faces a tough task right off the bat.
Rank-and-file Dallas police officers are frustrated with pension cuts and ongoing attrition issues, crime rates have ticked up slightly after reaching historic lows earlier this decade and the Dallas Police Department is only a year removed from the tragic July 7 ambush that left four DPD officers and one DART police officer dead.
Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax, who's been on the job less than a year, is charged with hiring the city's second most important employee. He needs to get it right, but he's had plenty of help.
Ralph Andersen and Associates, a California municipal headhunting firm contracted by the city to help with the search, recently handed Broadnax a list of eight finalists for the job. In a way, that means most of the work finding the new chief has already been done.
"Typically, there's a profile developed initially. I describe it as a job description plus, plus, plus to define what you're looking for in terms of background qualifications and personal characteristics," said Chris Hartung, president and owner of Chris Hartung Consulting. "Then you move to a solicitation phase. You do the typical advertising, but the search firm does an outreach, networking to try to identify potential candidates."
Ralph Andersen and Associates did not respond to a request for an interview about its search for Dallas' next chief, but Hartung's firm has hired police chiefs and other high-ranking municipal officers throughout Texas. After a pool of applicants is selected from referrals and applications, the search firm begins vetting the candidates to make sure they are capable of doing the job, Hartung said.
"The search firm's job is not to hire the new police chief; the search firm's job is to provide a pool of candidates who have the background to do the job," he said.
The person chosen from the eight candidates selected to be part of the formal interview process with Broadnax in July — Dallas Deputy Chiefs Malik Aziz and Rick Watson, Dallas Assistant Chief Gary Tittle, Seattle Deputy Chief Carmen Best, Grand Prairie Police Chief Steven Dye, Detroit Deputy Chief U. Renee Hall, Los Angeles First Assistant Chief Michel Moore and Assistant Chief Luther Reynolds of Montgomery County, Maryland — will be expected to continue community policing work begun by former Dallas Chief David Brown. He or she will also need to promote transparency in a department that's often been anything but transparent, according to Ralph Andersen and Associates' profile of Dallas' perfect top cop.
"The ideal candidate will maximize the department’s ability to advance community policing and crime reduction strategies as well as continue to emphasize accountability and transparency from command level to rank and file," it says. "The top candidate will be an individual who is compassionate, respectful, honest, and ethical and will possess the highest levels of integrity."
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For Broadnax and the panels of community leaders the city manager has selected to help interview the candidates, the interview process won't be about delving into each candidate's background, trying to find a skeleton in the closet that might disqualify him or her. Instead, it will be about determining which candidate, whether it's one of three already employed by DPD or an outsider, best fits the community, according to Hartung.
In a Facebook post by t
he Rev. Michael Waters, one of the people tapped for the citizen's interview panels, the desires of some Dallas residents are already coming into focus.
"Cultural diversity sensitivity training and community policing," one woman responded to Waters' query about what Dallas needs in a police chief. "Folks in our neighborhood have been largely afraid of the police since I've been here. That seemed to diminish some when the police came to our neighborhood meetings and actually interacted with the residents."
Others called for a citizen review board with subpoena power and a greater focus on family and sexual violence. Waters isn't ready to comment yet on what he'll be looking for, however, as he said it was too early in the process for an interview.