Charles Cato, long thought to be Dallas' police-chief-in-waiting, is leaving the Dallas Police Department. The long-serving first assistant chief has been named the chief of Mesquite's police, and will start March 7. During his time with the department, Cato served as the interim Dallas ISD police chief in 2006, was named an interim assistant city manager in 2013 and led DPD's gang unit.
Cato joined DPD in 1988 and was promoted to the executive level in 2010. Until last year, he was the only officer at that level — police chief David Brown's clear No. 2. After Brown promoted two additional officers, David Pughes and Cynthia Villarreal, to the same rank as Cato, rumors began to swirl that Cato was being chased from the department. Last month, Brown told the Observer that he was just trying to spread the leadership workload around.
"I know the conspiracy theory of promotions and command staff changes is much more sensational than somewhat the realities of what I think happens. Things happen," Brown said. "We’ve been riding our leadership team pretty hard. We have. And it’s at a pace where it’s just not sustainable, right? For me or having a single number one, particularly having to do the job at a level that’s never been done before in our history."
At the time, Brown expressed hope that Cato would stay with the department.
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"Besides, Cato hasn’t gone yet. He’s still interviewing. He’s been here a long time and Cato’s done an extraordinary job for the police department, and I wish people the best in their life, whether that means staying here or whether that means going somewhere else. I don’t have the thought that people got to be loyal to me until death do us part," Brown said. "He’s been with me from the start, so I do care for him as a person and wish him the best. I hope he stays here, but if he ends up going to another city, you know, he’ll continue to have my greatest appreciation for what he’s done."
Mesquite City Manager Cliff Kehely told Mesquite Police Department officers Cato was an "exceptional leader," in an email sent before the city of Mesquite officially announced the hire Friday afternoon.
“Improving public safety in Mesquite is one of the City Council’s top policy areas. Charles has the background and experiences we need to help lead us in new proactive efforts to make our community safer," Mesquite Mayor Stan Pickett said.