The decision by Dallas police Chief Renee Hall to step down from her position did not come as a surprise to an activist group that has criticized her leadership. But it did catch the leader of the Dallas Community Police Oversight Board off guard.
Mothers Against Police Brutality said Hall began to lose their support following protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, while the board's chairman said he did not expect it.
Sara Mokuria, with MAPB, said that while one individual does not make or break the Dallas Police Department, Hall did not show the right leadership in response to several recent events.
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“I’m not surprised by this [announcement] but I am wary that this moment is used to scapegoat her for issues that are really systemic in the police department,” Mokuria said.
That included the alleged use of excessive force by her officers toward protestors in Dallas in May and June.
Mokuria also questioned the chief’s decision to continue to arrest people for low-level crimes like marijuana possession during the pandemic.
“I think that the police chief has done her best in sometimes impossible situations but quite frankly she just missed the mark,” Mokuria said. “I look forward to what comes next but right now our focus needs to be on reducing the size and scope of policing in our city.”
Mothers Against Police Brutality will focus, she said, on the city budget, reducing police funding and pushing for systemic changes to policing in the city.
The Dallas Community Police Oversight Board met as planned Tuesday night, hours after Hall turned in her resignation letter. Chairman Jesuorobo Enobakhare said he was a bit caught off guard by the news.
“There were a lot of good things that we were working with Chief Hall on to try to bring some true reform to Dallas policing,” Enobakhare said.
Hall, the first Black woman to lead the department, has been under the microscope on issues concerning crime and community relations. Most recently, she was criticized for how the department handled several nights of protests, even giving herself a grade of "C-."
Still, Enobakhare said her leadership was admirable.
“I’ve watched Chief Hall own the mistakes that the Dallas Police Department has made, as any true leader would do. And you can do nothing but applaud that,” he said.
But Rene Martinez of LULAC 100 said Hall simply didn’t adjust to the role.
“It took her too long to, one, get to know the community, and two, understand the diversity that exists here in Dallas, especially the Latino community,” Martinez said.
Martinez said he lost confidence following the summer of 2019 when the crime rate spiked.
“And then of course the lack of trust and faith that the city council displayed for her recently because of how she handled the protests were all factors that I think led to the resignation,” he said.
Martinez said he’d like the next chief to be a local, and perhaps Latino. Enobakhare said whoever the next chief is, they should take note of cries for justice and accountability throughout the city and beyond.
“We need someone who is listening to those voices now and is ready to act on the request of the members of the community for change,” Enobakhare said. “When it comes to policing, it’s more than just policy. You also have to look at culture. You can change all the policies you want to, but until you attack the culture, nothing is going to change.”