City Hall

Dallas Police Chief Brown Abruptly Changes Course After Infusion of State Money

Monday, Dallas police Chief David Brown had a plan to stem Dallas' ongoing spike in violent crime. He told the City Council's public safety committee he would shuffle hundreds of officers' beats and schedules to deal with a 75 percent jump in murders so far in 2016 over the same time period in 2015. More than 600 officers, Brown said, would be reassigned to task forces or the 4 p.m. to midnight shift, during which 54 percent of violent crimes occur.

On Tuesday, he had a change of heart. The fact that members of the committee, not to mention the city's police officer associations, did not react well, had something to do with that.

“None of what you’ve presented here today is sustainable,” council member Philip Kingston said. “At some point, this committee is going to have to see a long-term plan from DPD.”

Others on the committee questioned whether moving the officers would increase risks in non-targeted areas or lengthen the time it takes to investigate non-targeted crimes. The Dallas Black Police Association, which has stood behind Brown as the Dallas Police Association and the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police have called for his resignation in the past, called for Brown's resignation as well in a letter sent to the City Council Monday.

Brown issued a joint statement with Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez on Tuesday saying that the plan he laid out Monday wouldn't work long term and won't be happening. Instead, the city will use an unspecified amount of money from the Texas Department of Public Safety to come up with a long-range plan.

"The big takeaway for me this week was sustainability," Brown said. "The plan presented to the public safety committee yesterday was not sustainable over a long period of time, and it would put a tremendous strain on our police force. It is clear to me that we need a study on staffing models, internal communications, response times and best practices. We are currently identifying resources that can be allocated toward this study within the next few months and I will make sure that the study includes input from our police officers."

Gonzalez said Tuesday, as he has numerous times in the past, that he stands behind Brown, praising the city's overall reduction in crime, but emphasizing the need to deal with current conditions.

“Unfortunately, the city is facing an increase in crime after more than a decade of reductions. We are dedicated to aggressively addressing this spike and returning the tide to crime reductions," Gonzalez said. "We must keep in mind that Dallas has seen an overall reduction in crime that is at levels we haven’t seen since the 1930s. With crime rates this low, we expect to see spikes at times, as we are seeing in different parts of the country today. But once we see those increases in crime, we must act immediately so that we do not see chronic problems resurfacing in our community."
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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