City Hall

Police Chief Hall Resigns

Dallas Police Chief U.  Renee Hall resigned Tuesday.
Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall resigned Tuesday. Brian Maschino
UPDATE, 5:13 p.m.:  Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax just released a longer statement about the police chief's resignation, noting that she will remain on the job until the end of 2020, not Nov. 10, at his request. His full statement is attached to the bottom of this story. And this just in, Mayor Eric Johnson issued a statement on the resignation, which he says he didn't know was coming. It's beneath Broadnax's comment below.

Just three years after becoming the first woman to lead the Dallas Police Department, U. Renee Hall has become the first woman to resign from the DPD chief's job, City Manager T.C. Broadnax just announced.

"Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax has accepted Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall’s letter of resignation effective November 10, 2020. City Manager Broadnax has alerted members of the Dallas City Council and Chief Hall has notified her Command Staff," the announcement said, promising a further statement from Broadnax will come soon.

In her resignation letter (below), Hall hints vaguely that she has another job in law enforcement lined up, though she doesn't say what it might be. "Over the last few months, I have received a number of inquiries about future career opportunities," she writes.

As well she might since her tenure here has appeared to be on shaky ground most of 2020. Hall has been under increasing pressure from City Council members over a spike in violent crime in recent years. More recently, she was the subject of harsh criticism over her handling of the department's review of how it responded to this summer's Black Lives Matter protests and rioting prompted by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Her official "after-action" report acknowledged problems with communications and organization in the department's handling of the protests, which culminated in the arrest of more than 600 people who were tear-gassed and hit with "less lethal" crowd-control weapons on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge on June 1. They were later released without charges. Council members said the report took too long to create, was short on details and biased in favor of the police.

Councilman Adam McGough, chairman of the public safety committee, issued a memo Aug. 11 complaining that the report was thin when it came to information on protesters' complaints of abuse by police.

"I am deeply concerned about the inexplicable use of excessive force in several circumstances and lack of requisite planning and strategies to keep our community and protesters safe," McGough wrote in the memo. "These actions must be further investigated and there must be appropriate accountability."

The department and the Office of Community Police Oversight are investigating 50 complaints of police use of excessive force during the May 29-June 1 protests, but the DPD's after-action report contained few details on those cases.

McGough pinned the problem on a failure of leadership.

Now that she's on her way out of the door, council members were reticent about airing any more complaints about Hall's performance.

“I wish her well in her next endeavors. I believe she came in at a pivotal time in our city and was a vital and welcome change. I appreciate her leadership while she was here,” Councilman Adam Bazaldua told the Observer on Tuesday.

“I am thankful to Chief Hall for her collaboration with community members across Dallas, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors,” Councilman Omar Narvaez said.

UPDATE: Here is Broadnax's comment in full:

Tuesday, Chief Reneé Hall informed me she will resign her position as Dallas Police Chief on November 10, 2020. I spoke to Chief Hall this afternoon and asked her to remain in this key position until the end of 2020. She has agreed to do so. That will enable us to complete the short-term goals of the R.E.A.L. Change initiative. I am extremely grateful to Chief Hall for extending her time in Dallas. This year has been tumultuous and uncertain. A few more months of her leadership are key for several projects and for a seamless transition within the police department.

In her three years of service, Chief Hall has provided consistent, passionate, resilient and robust leadership to our City. She has implemented a host of reforms that will assist our department as we move forward. I believe Chief Hall has succeeded in placing DPD on a path of true 21st Century Policing, and our next chief must have that same stout commitment to excellence.

Since the Chief has agreed to stay through the fourth quarter, we have time to develop the search criteria for a new chief. I will be announcing that process when it is finalized.

I hope you will join me in wishing our police chief the very best in her next endeavor. She will be a tremendous asset to any entity looking for solid leadership and management skills accompanied by an obligation and commitment to excellence in safety, security or law enforcement.

And from Mayor Johnson:

I want to thank Chief Hall for her service to the City of Dallas. I had not spoken to the chief about her decision, but I was not terribly surprised by it considering the recent public statements of my City Council colleagues.

I know that people who commit themselves to careers as police officers face immense challenges and must be willing to make tremendous sacrifices. We demand much from them and especially from our police leaders — and rightfully so because the stakes are incredibly high.

On top of those demands, Chief Hall had the burden and the distinction of being the first woman — a woman of color, no less — to serve as the police chief in Dallas. That was not lost on me. I wish her the best in her career and in her life moving forward.

I believe the Dallas City Council now must continue to support public safety in our communities. We cannot exclusively rely on law enforcement to reduce crime, but we absolutely need new policing strategies and fresh eyes that can help us reverse the unfortunate and unacceptable increases in violent crime in our city. We need strong and experienced police leadership that instills a culture of community policing, crime-fighting, and accountability.

While the city manager searches for a new police chief, it is our job as policymakers to provide police commanders with the tools they need to be successful and to make Dallas the safest big city in the country.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams