It's probably not the most surprising press release of the week: "Dallas Police Association PAC Unanimously Votes to Support Ron Natinsky For Dallas Mayor." After all, as we noted way back in September 2004 -- two months into David Kunkle's tenure as Dallas Police Department chief -- Kunkle and Glenn White, the longtime head of the DPA, were already butting heads over, among other things, Kunkle's doing away with the Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint, demoting Terrell Bolton's promotions and his outspoken desire to discipline bad cops.
White wasn't happy with how Kunkle came down on those officers who ticketed drivers who didn't speak English. And, over time, the two would clash again and again on countless other subjects, including, as Trey Garrison summed it up in D one year ago, "rules restricting deadly force, high-speed chases, TASERs, the chokehold -- White could go on and on." Said White, "Kunkle's senior commanders do too much politicking." White wants cops to be cops without any interference from above.
And so today comes the DPA endorsement, following a meeting last night with Natinsky; an association rep would not say whether it met with Kunkle, for whom a message has been left, or Mike Rawlings, so far the only two others running for mayor.
White is out of town, but says in the release, "During his years at City Hall, Ron Natinsky has proven through his actions a strong commitment to public safety and to making Dallas the safest city in America. ... Because of his extensive business experience, Ron also has the fiscal knowledge required to guide Dallas through tough economic times. He will use his expertise in economic development to grow our tax base so Dallas can provide the necessary city services, including public safety."
Update at 5:17 p.m. by Sam Merten: Kunkle just returned our call and told us the following about the DPA's endorsement:
"When I became chief, the department was a mess, and my goals and what the community wanted done was to reduce crime, enhance public trust in the police and avoid the types of controversies that had plagued the department over the years. And, to a large degree, those things were accomplished. As chief, I always tried to improve the environment for officers. They got pay increases, equipment and public support and confidence. And all the stuff I did, truthfully, wasn't to win a popularity contest with the police union."
Kunkle says he was not interviewed by the DPA for its endorsement, and Mari Woodlief, Mike Rawlings's consultant, says he wasn't interviewed either.