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The City Of Dallas Is Getting Closer To Picking The Next Police Chief

dallas_police.jpg
DALLAS HABITAT PHOTOS VIA FLICKR
The city of Dallas expects to pick the next police chief by the end of the year.

The City of Dallas has announced seven finalists for police chief and is conducting final round interviews this week — including a livestreamed public interview Wednesday.

Dallas hopes to have an new police chief in place by early next year and is putting seven finalists through a three-part evaluation process this week.

The candidates include three internal candidates, a former deputy chief, Irving's police chief, as well as police chiefs from California and Virginia:

The process of picking the next person in command has been rigorous and competitive — and it’s all been virtual to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Chief Reneé Hall, who became the first woman and the first Black woman to lead the Dallas force, announced her resignation in September following criticism for her department’s response to this summer's protests against police brutality.

Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall
Bret Jaspers
Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall speaks in front of Dallas City Council in June 2020.

Shortly after, the City of Dallas hired recruiting firm Public Sector Search & Consulting (PSSC) that specializes in police chief searches to help. This firm also helped in the process that selected Hall. PSSC identified candidates locally and across the country and vetted the 36 that applied for the Dallas position.

“As a search firm we go about our business in a methodical way,” said Gary Peterson, president of Public Sector Search & Consulting. “This search was intentionally sped up because of the competition we are seeing nationally.”

Many other cities across the country are also in search of a new police chief. PSSC also helped the city come up with a bilingual Community-wide Survey seeking input on what leadership qualities or qualifications residents of Dallas want in their next police chief.

During a meeting Monday, the firm announced they received over 4,500 responses from residents. Some of the general themes that came up included wanting a leader that prioritizes reducing crime in the city and a leader that understands racism and bias within policing practices.

The first part of the evaluation process happened Tuesday when local group panelists, selected by the city manager and the recruiting firm, interviewed the candidates.

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Keren Carrión/KERA News
The Dallas Police Department headquarters.

The panels were divided into five categories:

  • Neighborhood and Business
  • Faith-based and Nonprofit Organizations
  • Police Oversight and Cultural Diversity
  • Police Advocacy and Law Enforcement Partners
  • Police Employee Associations and City Executive Staff

Panelists are being asked to provide general observations about each candidate, and their strengths and weaknesses.

“I’m looking for a lot of the same qualities Chief Hall brought to DPD and a lot of those qualities start with being a progressive police chief, a police chief that is not afraid to make change when you see things are wrong,” said Terrance Hopkins, president of Black Police Association of Greater Dallas, who’s on the Police Employee Associations panel.

The second part of the interview process took place Wednesday — a public interview that was livestreamed.

Dallas Police Chief Interview Forum

During the live online interview that was open to the public, the seven remaining candidates made the case for why they're right for the job.

"There is no one in the City of Dallas who knows violent crime better than I do," said Reuben Ramirez, who's the current DPD Deputy Chief. "I feel that with the relationships I have in this community, the trust I've developed in this community and the trust I've developed with this Dallas Police Department. I feel I'm best fit to serve this department."

Ramirez has been in charge of overseeing DPD's criminal investigations division and said he would bring new strategies to fighting crime proactively, like community policing.

Candidate Avery Moore, who's currently DPD's Assistant Police Chief didn't talk about resume qualifications, but used a racecar as a metaphor.

"I'm like a racecar at the starting line. My engine is large. My tank is full of experience, wisdom, respect, knowledge and honor," Moore said. "And I'm waiting for the starting pistol to begin my career as the chief of police for the Dallas Police Department."

Moore is a 30 year veteran of the force and said his number one priority is reducing violent crime.

RaShall Brackney, currently the police chief in Charlottesville, Virginia, is the only woman finalist.

"What guarantees you are the best fit for Dallas is that your vision and value are aligned with those of the community that you are there to serve," Brackney said. "It's your experiences in this policing profession that will allow you, allow me to be successful as the next chief."

Brackney wants to heal the lack of trust between the community and the department.

If she gets the job, this would be her third police chief position. Before leading the department in Charlottesville she was chief of the George Washington University Police Department.

Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey is also vying for the job. He said serving the City of Irving has set him up for the role in Dallas.

"There were certainly some growing pains. Some mistakes made along the way," Spivey said. "But each one of those I think better prepared me for my next journey which will be the chief of police for the Dallas Police Department."

In Irving Spivey said he has focused on mental health by partnering with community organizations and hopes to do more of that in Dallas.

The candidates also talked about the importance of transparency in a police department and the need for community inclusion.

The last interview will be on Thursday with city leaders.

“I don’t really like to hesitate or spend too much time...hopefully, it will be clear to me and maybe more follow up will be necessary for me to be able to select the chief," City Manager T.C. Broadnax said.

He added he'll probably take the weekend to think about it and make a decision the following week.

The selection process was lengthy, Broadnax said, because he wanted it to be as inclusive as possible.

“I will ultimately make the decision," he said. "In any decision I make I listen, in some cases more than I speak and then I use my best professional judgement with my understanding of what the job is and what the city needs."

Broadnax plans to select and appoint the new chief by the end of the month and the person will start early next year. In the meantime, the city has appointed 23-year department veteran Lonzo Anderson as interim chief.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the economic impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @_martinez_ale.

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