High School Classmates Remember Chief David Brown

Quiet and confident. That is how Dallas Police Chief David Brown's South Oak Cliff High School classmates remember the teenager who would become Dallas' top cop.

"He was very smart and intelligent, and we knew he was going to be somebody," said Brown's former classmate, Teresa Steward.

Brown graduated from South Oak Cliff High School in 1979. He was named "Most Inteligent" by his classmates. Joe Colbert remembers Brown as a laser-focused student who commanded respect from his peers.

"It's rare that someone as quiet would be as popular," said Joe Colbert, another classmate. "He's an example of being a man of discipline, principal, and excellence, which were some of the ideas that South Oak Cliff promoted in all of the students."

After graduating Brown headed for the University in Texas to pursue a potential law career, but when he returned home to Oak Cliff in the summertime he found his true calling. Crack cocaine was decminating Brown's community and he wanted to do something about it.

"Some of our friends were hooked on drugs at the time," Colbert recalled.

Brown joined the Dallas Police Department in 1983. He became a sergeant on the departments SWAT Unit before being named lieutenant and ultimately chief. Throughout that time those who worked with Brown said he never forgot where he came from.

"He was proud to be from Oak Cliff and he let you know that," said Sergeant Phyllis Williams. 

Brown will likely be remembered for his emphasis on community policing. Williams said Brown's committment came from years of expereience working in his own community.

"He would use (southern Dallas) stations as pilot stations to work towards more involvement with the community, and it bridged the gap between the community and police department," she said.

But perhaps Brown's greatest legacy will be in Oak Cliff where students at South Oak Cliff High School can look at a person who grew up in their neighborhood and achieved the highest level of success.

"They can actually see one of their own who has risen up to be someone of professional rank - Chief of the Dallas Police Department - one of the largest departments. They're proud of that. He left a positive legacy with them and they're actually proud of him," Williams said.

As for Brown's classmates, while they're shocked by his retirment they said his more than three decades of success comes as no surprise to them.

"He had the intellect to make a difference in our city here in Dallas," Steward said.

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