Texan of the Year Finalist: Former Dallas Police Chief David Brown

Former Police Chief David Brown would dispute that he was a hero on that deadly July night in downtown Dallas. He would point you instead to the five fallen officers or to all the first responders desperate to find the sniper who targeted their colleagues.But inevitably, the hero's mantle fell on Brown as July 7 dissolved into the many hard days that followed. Through it all, his inner strength and outward grace provided firm footing to help guide this city out of tragedy.It's everything that Brown did to prepare for that unspeakable moment, in the moment itself and in the many, many moments that would follow that makes him a worthy finalist for Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year.Under the worst of circumstances, with his officers dead and dying, Brown had no choice but to become the face of a department, a city and a nation, asking Americans to find a way to bridge the gap to police.In an instant, his noble and remarkable crisis management went coast to coast. The hashtag #DavidBrownForPresident swamped Twitter.Here in Brown's hometown -- he's a fourth-generation Dallas native -- we saw nothing new. Just the same humble, steady chief who had shown true heroism throughout his public service.How does he do it? "God's grace and his sweet, tender mercies, just to be quite honest with you," the near-exhausted chief responded a few days after officers were gunned down.Throughout his career, Brown has risen to the moment, and never more than in his determined efforts to improve his officers' relationships with the citizens they serve, particularly the city's minority residents.A strong foundation was in place to move beyond July 7 because Brown had made trust and transparency hallmarks of his tenure: Progressive policies that emphasized de-escalation tactics whenever possible, the release of data related to police shootings and increased use of body cameras and dash-cam video.Brown's "walking the walk" record on accountability served him and his department well when July's crisis brought Dallas into the national spotlight.He used that platform to talk about the rending of trust between minority civilians and police. And he also gave voice another less publicized, but no less uncomfortable, truth: First responders are too often the last defense against society's most pernicious problems.Precise and blunt, but with a leavening of gentle humor and civility, Brown's voice resonated widely with a weary nation. He challenged protesters to channel their frustration into public service ("We're hiring"). He comforted mourners at the fallen officers' memorial service with his simple recitation of Stevie Wonder lyrics.Retiring in October from the Dallas force on his 56th birthday, Brown undoubtedly will bring his same no-nonsense perspective to even more national conversations about policing, race relations, gun violence and social justice. Here in Dallas, we'll never forget his steady leadership in a tragedy that devastated -- but also galvanized -- a city.  Continue reading...

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