The city of Dallas is making progress toward selecting a new chief of police with the announcement of seven candidates.
City Manager T.C. Broadnax invited the group of seven candidates chosen from a pool of 36 applicants from across the U.S. Interviews are set to begin this week.
The candidates named on the shortlist are:
- Albert Martinez – Director of Security for Dallas Catholic Dioceses/Former DPD Deputy Chief. He worked for 27 years with DPD, serving as the deputy chief of the 500-personnel South Patrol Bureau at the time. In his current job with the Dallas Catholic Diocese, he now oversees safety and security for 75 parishes and diocesan facilities in Dallas.
- Avery Moore – Assistant Police Chief, Dallas Police Department. Moore is a leader in the special investigations division and tactical unit and has worked with DPD for almost 30 years. He previously led 700 officers in the East Patrol Bureau and formerly worked as a SWAT commander.
- Eddie Garcia – Chief of Police, San Jose, California. Garcia has worked with the San Jose Police Department for nearly 30 years. He has served as chief there since Jan. 2016, leading a force of 1,400. He will be retiring from the department this month. He is a Puerto Rico native.
- Jeff Spivey – Chief of Police, City of Irving, Texas. He took the helm as Chief in Irving in March 2017. Before that, he was the assistant chief for five years. He has worked in several departments, including patrol and criminal investigation.
- Malik Aziz – Major, Dallas Police Department. He has served on the force since 1992 and currently serves as a night major over the Northwest and North Central Patrol divisions. He was a finalist in the last search for DPD chief in 2017. Right now, he is also a finalist for the police chief position in Milwaukee, Wis.
- Reuben Ramirez – Deputy Chief, Dallas Police Department. He has worked with DPD for 25 years and currently serves as a leader in the criminal investigations division. Ramirez has also served as the legislative affairs liaison since 2017 and is the Latino liaison to the chief of police. Before this, he oversaw the internal affairs division, which investigates officers for policy violations of general orders.
- RaShall Brackney – Chief of Police, Charlottesville, Virginia. Brackney was the first Black woman police chief in Charlottesville when she took over in 2018. She is a 30-year veteran of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and is also the former police chief of George Washington University.
The search to lead DPD was launched when Chief Reneé Hall, who has served since 2017, announced in September her departure at the end of the year.
“I’m pleased to report our progress in this process, and know the men and women of DPD look forward to new leadership continuing the work Chief Hall began towards R.E.A.L. change – responsibly, equitably, accountably and legitimately reimagining public safety,” Broadnax said.
Interviews between candidates and council members will be pre-recorded and published on the city's social media and cable TV this week.
The city hired a firm in October to help with the search then community surveys were done in November. Broadnax said the city received input from thousands of residents and DPD personnel.
An additional 55 organizations ranging from police unions to neighborhood nonprofits will participate in stakeholder panel interviews with the candidates beginning Dec. 15.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, the entire process has been conducted virtually. Broadnax said in a statement with NBC 5 Friday that the panel interviews will help identify the candidates' strengths and weaknesses.
"I will also interview the candidates personally and intend to select and appoint a new Chief by the end of December," he said.
Councilmember Jennifer Staubach Gates, chair of the Public Safety Committee, told our content partners at The Dallas Morning News that the finalists were “a good balance of internal and external candidates.”
“I think this is a good, solid group of candidates and I think it’ll help identify the perfect match for the city of Dallas,” she said.
Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, weighed in on the search for a new chief.
"I think it takes a certain type of person to command a large police department with the dynamics that are going on in big cities today, in the national arena that we’re working in right now," he said. “It’s tough, and it’s going to be tough for that person who’s coming in the place of Chief Hall because we are in such a situation with morale, manpower, high murder rate, high crime rate."
Critics are also pointing out some concerns in the search process.
Police union leaders said the city eased back on requirements to apply for chief in order to cast a wider net on finding candidates.
The position no longer requires a master's degree or a higher number of years as command supervisor.
For example, Salina police - a much smaller department - does require a master's degree and eight years of command supervisor experience.
"It's mindblowing to me. Because, let's just look at it, we're in a worse position today than we were in 2017 when Chief Hall was hired. Why would we lower our standards? And if it's because you want a wider or broader applicant pool then why did we only get 36?" said Mata.
Mata said in last search for a chief, they had 75 to 100 applicants.
There's also concern about the speed of the entire search process. With the goal of finding a chief by year-end, the search process spans about 60 days. For comparison, Fort Worth, which also has a goal of finding a new chief by the year, has been searching since the summer.
"I think it's very problematic when we're trying to look for a quick fix to a big problem. Quick fixes never work. I think this should’ve been a six-month process," said Mata. “I just think there’s a better process. But we took shortcuts because we need to have somebody by Dec. 31. We have capable people, like Chief Anderson, who has been named the interim, that could do this for a few days or 180 days. Just so we can make sure we get it right.”
Mata said he was also concerned to see no applicants from top 10 cities in the country with experience in the problems Dallas faces such as morale, staffing, race relations and the surge in violent crime.
"Why did not one executive commander from a top 10 city put in for the city of Dallas job? Not Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Baltimore. Nobody. That ought to tell you something," he said. "We did not have one applicant from the city of Houston. But yet Fort Worth had one from the city of Houston and one from Austin.”
Dallas has seen at around 230 homicides so far this year, up from 191 a year ago.
Mayor Eric Johnson did not mince words about this and the search for a chief during his city address last week.
"Reducing violence will also help us recover economically from COVID-19," he said. "We need more robust law enforcement strategies as well. The violent crime reduction plan that I asked for last year simply has not worked. Soon, the city manager will decide on a new police chief who will set the course for the Dallas Police Department in the years ahead. I have no say in that decision, but it’s important to me that the public has a voice. I will continue to push for your involvement, and it is my expectation that whoever becomes the next police chief will be accountable to you and will work with you to make our city safer."
Meanwhile, Broadnax has also appointed Lonzo Anderson, a 23-year veteran of DPD, to serve as interim police chief beginning Dec. 15.
“I am honored the city manager has asked me to serve as interim police chief during this transition and remain committed to advancing the department’s efforts to address violent crime,” said Anderson. “I’m grateful to Chief Hall for her leadership and continued service ensuring a smooth transition and will likewise look forward to helping the new chief get up to speed in early 2021.”
Crime in Dallas
NBC 5's Alanna Quillen contributed to this report.