Sitting in an armchair with an ungainly tangle of microphone cables pinned to his chest, David Pughes spoke to members of the media Friday about his new job as interim chief of the Dallas Police Department.
The job came as a surprise for Pughes who says that he had no prior warning that Brown was going to retire. The interim chief says that he has a leadership team to help him manage the transition and the job itself. “One person can’t do this,” Pughes said.
There's no clear front runner for David Brown’s replacement, and this appointment doesn't change that. Pushes says that he would not be a candidate for the permanent positing, citing time away from his children as a deciding factor. “I [already] miss some of their games, their concerts and things like that,” Pughes said. “I’m not willing to take that additional step and just miss everything.”
He'll be keeping the chair warm for however long it takes to find a permanent replacement. That responsibility will belong to the next city planner since the current one, A.C. Gonzalez, will be departing in a couple of months.
For the past 14 months, Pughes has operated as one of the DPD’s assistant chiefs and has handled the operational aspects of the department. This November will mark his 26th year with the department. In that time, Pughes has also served as a detective, training officer, patrol supervisor and a lieutenant in the homicide unit. (See "Career Trajectory," below.)
Pughes promised that he'd continue Brown's focus on community engagement. Existing youth programs will continue and new ones will be added to the mix. Pughes mentioned a program where citizens could visit the police academy and see what kind of training recruits have to go through. “We let them experience some of that to have a better understanding of what the officers face,” Pughes said. “If we develop some rapport and then begin the dialogue, we’ll be in a better place.”
Asked to identify the biggest problem facing the department, he cited the difficulty developing trust between officers and the public. “We have built trust over the years that Chief Brown has been here,” Pughes said. “But the trust can be broken down in one incident or one day, so you can never stop trying to build that. ... If the people that we’re out there serving don’t trust us, and are afraid to call 911, if we get to that point, then we’ve completely lost it.”
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He said he felt comfortable with property and violent crime task forces remaining, but suggested that they may alter them in some capacity. Fugitive apprehension will likely be ramped up during his time as the interim chief. Shift scheduling will eventually be changing from overlapping ten hour shifts to a traditional eight hour, three shift approach. Pughes says that the current setup with three days off every week puts too much stress on officers.
Pughes acknowledged the challenge of taking over for Brown who has achieved both “notoriety and acceptance.” In that, he has big shoes to fill. “He’s retired from this department but he will never give up the thought of being a Dallas police officer and being the Dallas Police Chief,” Pughes said.
Hired: November 1990 after graduating first in his academy class.
First assignment: Central Division, where he earned a promotion and became a detective in the department’s Youth Division.
As a sergeant: Worked Southwest Patrol and then a return back to the Youth Division as a supervisor.
Another promotion: As a Lieutenant, Pughes worked in the Northwest and Southeast Patrol stations.
Reassigned: For year and half to reform the department’s eyewitness identification policy, which DPD says "was used as a model for the rest of the country."
Transferred: To the Crimes Against Persons Unit.
Yet another promotion: This time to Deputy Chief. He was commander over the Northwest Patrol Division.
Another reform: Pughes reorganized the DPD training academy's procedures.
- Source: DPD