More than 100 people packed a hall on Dallas' South Side to show support for embattled Dallas Police Chief David Brown during what was billed as an "Appreciation Event."
Several past and currrent City Council Members spoke, including Adam McGough, Erik Wilson and Vonceil Hill Jones. Mayor Mike Rawlings said, not only "do I support Chief Brown. I think he's one of the best Chiefs in the United States of America."
In all there were about a dozen speakers, including elected officials, pastors, and community organizers.
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"I stand flat-footed and solid behind him. And I say Chief, you just keep on keeping on," said former Dallas City Councilwoman Vonceil Hill Jones.
They uniformly said Brown believes in fairness and justice and is working hard to fix problems within the department, such as officer turnover and slow 911 response times.
"Dallas has not become Ferguson, or Baltimore, or Chicago, therefore be it resolved: We are down with Chief David Brown," said Pastor Freddie Haynes, of Friendship West Baptist Church.
They also said a lot of the criticism against Brown is personal and unfair, such as blaming him for low morale instead of low starting salary or a festering national distrust of law enforcement in general.
At the end of the event, Brown spoke.
"Man I feel good today, he said. "I feel like I went to church on Friday."
He then looked straight at the Dallas Police Association president -- an outspoken critic of Brown's "management style"--and said this:
"I want to make sure as the Lord looks at me that I publicly express forgiveness. Lets work together. I want to publicly do that. I want to hear everyone hears and sees me reach out with forgiveness. That’s important to me, that’s important to my faith."
The DPA represents about 2600 Dallas police officers. During a joint news conference two weeks -- with five different national police associations -- organizers called on Brown to step down. Notably, while the National Black Police Association was in attendance; the local Dallas Black Police Association did not attend.
"My back is straight. I’m encouraged. I look people in the eye and say lets work together," Brown said afterwards. "Energized is not a strong enough word."
Brown said he acknowledges some of the criticism has to do with his reserved, "humble" personality and he is working hard to reward good officers with both public praise and professional commendations.
The head of the Dallas Police Association said the event was high on praise but short on specifics.
"I wanted to hear if there was going to be any dialogue to fix the issues we want to see addressed. I didn't hear that. Instead I heard a lot of politicians speak," said Ron Pinkston, the head of the DPA, which represents roughly 2600 officers.
"We want to hear a resolution for how to fix the response times, to fix increasing violent crime, how to fix the attrition rate that's shooting up through the roof," he added.
Pinkston said he appreciates Brown's message but won't offer support.
"We want to fix this department, we’re going to do whatever it takes to fix it," he said.
The starting salary for a Dallas Police Officer is $45,000 or $48,000 for a four-year college degree. That's lower compared to the starting pay of other North Texas police departments.
Brown said he plans on presenting the city manager a plan to boost pay.
"I think we can make a good case for higher starting pay. And morale, morale is low but I think you can go back many chiefs and go across the country and see morale is low. We’re dealing with that, but the first issue is starting pay," he said.