From the looks of it, what happened last Friday was a good sign for Dallas Police Chief David Brown. After about two weeks of being circled by his opponents, Brown got what appeared to be a robust show of support from nearly all of the Dallas City Council and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.
In a memo delivered to Dallas City Manager AC Gonzalez late last week, the 12 city council members, including Rawlings, praised the chief and his department's programs, focusing on the community policing efforts pushed by Brown. The memo notes the budgetary difficulties Brown has faced and backs up Rawlings' rebuke of three City Council members who met with Gonzalez to discuss Brown's future and performance. Rawlings later chastised the members for discussing a personnel matter the mayor said should've been left to Gonzalez.
The criticism against Brown has centered on slow 911 response times, low police officer morale and complaints about the leadership structure in the department by Dallas' police associations. His critics say Brown has not put enough officers on patrol, leading to lower response times. In late September, when Brown told a City Council committee his officers needed to get paid more so that DPD could recruit and retain officers competitively, the Dallas Police Association dismissed Brown's requests as coming years too late.
It would seem then, that the DPA, which has insisted that a change in leadership at the department is essential, whether it comes in the form of a new, improved Brown or a new chief, would feel left out in the cold. Eleven city council members and the mayor have expressed support for a chief the association has essentially never gotten along with, but DPA President Ron Pinkston says he told the council members who called him to sign the memo.
"I told all the council members that called me, I was getting a lot of calls on this, and I told them to sign it. I said, 'I think this a ploy by [council member] Lee Kleinman to try to find out who is in support and who wasn't in support of Chief Brown.' So, I told all the ones that called me to sign it. It's not anything binding. You support the police department is what you're saying."
Kleinman says the memo was simply meant to express support for DPD's policies and programs.
"I'm not counting any votes on Chief Brown. If you read my memo it talks about the policies and programs that [DPD's] putting in place to make our city safer," he says. "It's certainly not a personnel memo giving anybody any direction."
Council members Scott Griggs, Mark Clayton and Philip Kingston — all of whom have expressed distress about response times and other actions taken by DPD — were the only council members not to sign the memo. Interestingly, both Erik Wilson and Adam Medrano signed memo, despite participating in the initial meeting with Gonzalez about Brown's performance. Wilson has since said that he wasn't aware of the tenor the meeting would take going into it and that he fully supports the chief. Medrano — chair of the council's Public Safety Committee — told The Dallas Morning News that Brown had dealt with his worries about the department, specifically with regard to 911 response times.
Pinkston says nothing should be read into the memo.
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"It's just one council member trying to push his weight around to find out who is supporting the police association," Pinkston says. "It means nothing."
There's no doubt that the mayor, at least, genuinely supports Brown. Last week, he led the cheers at a support rally organized for Brown at the Gilley's complex across from police headquarters.
"He understands that we as a city must be safe, but that each citizen must feel respected,” Rawlings said, according to the Morning News. “God has been very good to this city, but one of the things he has blessed us with is a great chief of police.”