Five Things to Know About U. Renee Hall, Dallas' Newly Announced Police Chief

U. Renee Hall (right) at Dallas City Hall, earlier this month.
U. Renee Hall (right) at Dallas City Hall, earlier this month. Avi Adelman
On Wednesday afternoon, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax announced that Dallas' next police chief will be U. Renee Hall, a deputy chief in the Detroit Police Department. She'll take over the post vacated by former Chief David Brown, who retired in October.

She's expected to start Sept. 5.

“Chief Hall is a proven leader with a stellar background and a passion for public service,” Broadnax said in a statement. “These are qualities I believe are critical as we tackle crime to make our city safer while addressing organizational and policy issues within the department.”

Last month, the California municipal headhunting firm Ralph Andersen and Associates placed Hall on Broadnax's shortlist. Broadnax and several community panels interviewed seven of those candidates — Grand Prairie police Chief Steve Dye withdrew from consideration shortly after making the cut — last week in Dallas.

Here are five things to know about Dallas' next top cop.

The basics:

Hall joined the Detroit Police Department in 2000 and has served the city for the better part of two decades. She is the deputy chief in charge of the department's Neighborhood Policing Bureau, which is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the department's patrol divisions. She's a graduate of Grambling State University and has two master's degrees from the University of Detroit-Mercy.

When she takes over in September, Hall will become Dallas' first female police chief.

Why she's a fit for Dallas:

As a long-term member of the Detroit Police Department, Hall has dealt with many of the issues that Dallas police face. Over the last decade, Detroit has suffered through a pension crisis, lost hundreds of officers from attrition and layoffs, and dealt with a loose dog crisis. At City Hall last week, Hall said her experience made her a perfect match for the city.

"I bring unique experience and success. The city of Detroit has experienced the same challenges that the city of Dallas has right now," she said. "We've gone through bankruptcy, we've had pension reform, we've had pay decreases ... and we've come out on top."

Frederick Frazier, first vice president of the Dallas Police Association, pointed to Hall's experiences in the Motor City as reasons to hope she'll succeed in Dallas.

"This thing is coming down in hurry," Frazier said. "Somebody better be able to refuel this thing really fast, or we're all going to be on board. That's [the police department], the citizens, the business community, everybody. I think she saw that in Detroit. She went through it as a younger officer and then got into leadership and helped build that back up. She got in there and helped with recruiting, helped them bounce back with their morale. They're hiring officers again. That's kinda where we're at, right?"

"She's going to have to open doors, and ... there's going to be skeletons behind it." – Frederick Frazier, Dallas Police Association

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Hall has a tragic family history.

An unknown assailant killed Hall's father, Ulysses Brown, in 1971. Brown was a Detroit cop, and his killing is one of the city's oldest unsolved murders. According to Detroit TV station WXYZ, Brown was gunned down while working on an antiprostitution task force in what is now the city's ninth precinct.

Hall, who was 6 months old at the time of the murder, talked to the station about the loss last year.

"My father not being there meant the same thing as every other child in Detroit or around the world growing up without a father," she said. "It has an impact."

While Dallas' police unions might have preferred an internal candidate, they are still happy with Hall's selection.

"We thought our internal candidates did really, really well, but out of all of the candidates, she was the other one that rose to the top during the interview process," Frazier said. "She had a lot of personality and a lot of work out in the field. She rode with officers. She said things that broke through to catch the attention of an officer."

As Hall settles into the job, Frazier advises, it's important that she finds a DPD veteran to help her navigate the intricacies of the department.

"She needs to get somebody underneath of her that is already here," he said. "One of those internal candidates on that list needs to be her eyes and ears because she's going to have to open doors, and there's going to be a bomb behind it, there's going to be skeletons behind it."

Like Brodnax, Hall goes by initials, or an an initial in this case.

The U in U. Renee Hall stands for Ulysha.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young