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Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall Resigns

Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall
Bret Jaspers
/
KERA News
Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall

Chief Reneé Hall will stay through the end of the year. Hall has come under fire in recent months for the way the police department handled this summer's protests against police brutality.

Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall is leaving the department after three years.

She submitted her resignation letter Tuesday, and said she would leave the post effective Nov. 10. But city officials say she's agreed to stay through the end of the year.

"In her three years of service, Chief Hall has provided consistent, passionate, resilient and robust leadership to our City," City Manager T.C Broadnax said in a statement. "She has implemented a host of reforms that will assist our department as we move forward."

In 2017, Hall became the first woman and the first Black woman to lead the force. But she has come under fire in recent months for the way the police department handled this summer's protests against police brutality. Some City Council members have criticized her leadership.

In her letter, Hall didn't say what she's doing next, but said she remains committed to law enforcement.

"These past three years have been saturated with a series of unimaginable events that individually and collectively have never happened in the City of Dallas," Hall said in the letter. "I am proud that this department has not only coped with an unthinkable series of events, but we have also managed to implement critical reforms that were clearly needed for the Dallas Police Department to meet our 21st century policing goals."

Hall came from Detroit, Michigan, where she served as deputy chief. She arrived in Dallas just after her predecessor David Brown led the department through the aftermath of the July 2016 shooting that left five officers dead at a downtown Dallas protest. At the time, the police department was dealing with a number of problems, including low morale within the department, slow response rate to calls, lack of staffing and a city urging for progressive reforms.

Recently, however, the department and Hall have faced criticism for their response to the first four days of protests, May 29 to June 1, that were ignited by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The Dallas department released an 85-page “After-Action Report" in August detailing the police's response and ways to improve. In the report, police acknowledged how they struggled with operational plans, communication and keeping a unified command structure.

Council member Chad West, who represents District 1, was surprised by Hall's resignation.

"I look forward with the public safety committee on the transition. I think the transition over the next couple of months is going to be very important," he said. "What I will expect from DPD moving forward and from the next chief will be just complete open communication and transparency."

West was critical of how long it took for the After-Action Report to be released and the “lack of information and sort of how it was written -- very defensive in its posture.”

District 7 City Council member Adam Bazaldua has been an outspoken critic of how Hall handled the response to the protests this summer, but he acknowledged the positive things she did while leading the department.

"There were a slew of emotions I think that came over me when I saw the news," Bazaldua said. "The huge progress in having a Black women as chief. I think without Chief Hall we would have never had the Community Police Oversight Board."

Bazaldua says he wants the next chief to be someone outside of Dallas.

“Just like we sought with Chief Hall, I would like to see someone from the outside," he said. "Someone who is going to have an unbiased approach. That’s going to require a leader that’s going to be bold.”

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in a statement that he did not speak to Hall before she submitted her resignation, but was not surprised by her decision, considering some council members have been critical of her leadership.

"I know that people who commit themselves to careers as police officers face immense challenges and must be willing to make tremendous sacrifices," Johnson said in the statement. "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."

Johnson said the City Council should continue to support public safety.

"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," he said. "We need strong and experienced police leadership that instills a culture of community policing, crime-fighting, and accountability."

Sara Mokuria, co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, said she hopes the change in leadership does not distract from the work that needs to be done.

"We cannot scapegoat her leadership for the systemic issue that this police department is facing. These issues were before her and they will be here after her," Mokuria said. "While this is important news, the more important story now is how we are going to address violent crime in our community, how we are going to address keeping our community safe."

Jerry Hawkins, executive director of Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation, echoed that Hall's resignation shouldn't distract from the overall goals of equity and helping underserved communities.

"I’m hoping that this is not a distraction from the work that has to happen which is the city allocating more resources to communities of color," he said. "And Chief Hall, one of her mistakes was not addressing the history of her institution, which was a very racist history. Even in the '80s they were one of the worst police departments in the country, not now, but they still have not addressed that history and that was going to hinder her or anyone in that role from doing a good job unless they acknowledge the racist history of the police department.

"There is also the other side of it too. Chief Hall is a Black woman and I’m sure she’s experienced not only the criticisms that comes with this job but also misogyny and racism that comes with being a Black woman in this country as well. It was always going to be a difficult job for her to do."

Since Hall agreed to stay through the end of the year, Broadnax said the city has time to develop the search criteria for a new chief, and he will announce the details of that process when it's finalized.

Read Hall's full resignation letter below.

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