Several police associations want Dallas Chief David Brown out. Dozens of local, state and national representatives and officers held a press conference Wednesday, where they said the department needs to change its leadership and philosophy to fix what they called a “broken system.”
The average police chief in a big-city department only stays in the job for about three years. Brown has been chief for five. Now, his critics are saying that’s too long for how little they claim he’s done to protect officers and citizens.
Rochelle Bilal is from Philadelphia and is vice chair of the National Black Police Association. She joined many Dallas locals on stage and said numerous complaints to the City Council, the city manager and Brown himself have gone unanswered.
“This is not new. We’ve been hearing about it for a long time,” Bilal said. “So, today, we make a stand, unified together, to say this is a broken system and it needs to be fixed.”
The police groups cited a recent survey from the Dallas Police Association. Three out of four cops who responded said morale was either “low” or the “lowest it’s ever been.” Meanwhile, police response times for emergency calls are getting longer -- and the police report that violent crime is up 7 percent over the past year.
Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston points the finger at Brown.
“It’s 100 percent his responsibility,” Pinkston said. “He dictates how many officers are on the streets and answering the 911 calls.”
In response, the police chief touted his policies, which instruct officers to slow down and be cautious when handling potentially dangerous situations. He said that approach has had results. Shootings involving police have declined and excessive force complaints have dropped 80 percent. This comes during a time of national debate about policing and proper training.
On Monday, Brown addressed his critics on the City Council. While he originally downplayed the low morale as simply part of the job, he finally acknowledged that a lot of officers’ complaints are still justified.
“Morale is down, and rightly so,” Brown said before council members. “Officers have been fired, sued, indicted and shot at at police headquarters, and their achievements have been discounted without evidence.”
Brown has promised to work on improving pay and pension benefits for officers, which he blames for officers leaving the department over the past few years.
While some critics still have faith in Brown’s determination to work things out, many at Wednesday's gathering agreed that whatever he does to appease them from now on is too little too late.