For almost everyone outside Dallas City Hall, David Brown's Thursday announcement that he would be stepping down as Dallas police chief next month came as a complete shock.
For Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, however, the announcement came as no surprise. Brown, they said Thursday, had been talking about leaving and setting up a plan of succession for weeks.
"The chief had been talking to A.C. for some time about being on the last laps of his career, so it wasn't a total surprise. We wanted to pace this out and do it in the right way, [but then] July 7 happened and we kind of forgot about that," Rawlings said. "But he told me that when he started thinking about it, praying with his wife, he decided that this fall would be a good time to leave."
Gonzalez named Assistant Police Chief David Pughes as Brown's interim replacement Thursday, but will not be in charge of the nationwide search that will take place to find Brown's replacement. That quest will begin in January, after Gonzalez steps down from the post he's held since 2013.
It was during and after the July 7 ambush on Dallas police that left five officers dead that Brown had his finest hour, Rawlings said. "The whole world learned what a special man leads our Dallas police," Rawlings said.
Gonzalez also praised Brown. "David is a person of high integrity, character and an unrelenting resolve to serve the citizens of Dallas in the most professional manner possible. It’s been a pleasure to work with David. We will miss his leadership," the city manager said.
Ron Pinkston, president of the Dallas Police Association and a longtime critic of Brown, said Thursday afternoon that the issues the Dallas Police Department has faced over the last couple of years of Brown's tenure — namely officer attrition and low pay — might keep qualified applicants from applying to replace the outgoing chief.
"We expect Chief Brown to keep fighting hard for police raises [over his last six weeks]," Pinkston said, pointing at the cash Brown and Gonzalez have allocated in the upcoming city budget to give raises to some members of the department. "The city and the city council need to fix our officers' pay once and for all."
Brown's retirement shouldn't have any effect on the budget, Gonzalez said. "The recommendations that the chief made are sound ones. The guidance that he's provided is sound. I don't think it changes much," Gonzalez said.
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Texas Republican leaders also had kind words for the chief.
"Over the past three decades, Chief Brown has been dedicated to preserving the safety of others," Texas Governor Greg Abbott said. "At no time was his exemplary leadership more evident than in the aftermath of the heinous shooting of law enforcement officers this July in Dallas. Thanks to his unwavering commitment to protecting his community, Dallas has emerged even stronger, and on behalf of the entire State of Texas, Cecilia and I thank him for his service."
Ted Cruz credited Brown with "bringing Dallas together when forces of hate tried tearing it apart."
As for the chief himself, he was busy Thursday, the mayor said. Brown was playing golf in Austin with his wife, something he hopes to do a lot more of, according to Rawlings. Brown is expected to make his first public statement about his planned retirement next Thursday, Sept. 8.