The seven finalists to become the new Dallas Police Chief face three days of interviews starting Tuesday. City Manager T. C. Broadnax, who makes the hiring decision, will talk with each of the finalists on Thursday and listen to input from people who conducted the other interviews before he makes his decision. Broadnax said he intends to select a new police chief by the end of the month.
The new chief will confront a spike in violent crime that outgoing Chief U. Renee Hall could not reverse. Hall announced her resignation in September after nearly three years on the job. She has not revealed future plans.
Her 2020 plan to reduce Dallas violent crime citywide by at least 5% missed the mark as figures through December 13 show violent crime up about 2%, led by a 30% increase in aggravated assault that is not family violence and a 21% increase in murder.
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Police said many of this year’s killings began as disagreements between acquaintances.
“It becomes very difficult for us to intercept or disrupt in terms of prevention. But it's a really important piece of information for our community,” Deputy Chief Reuben Ramirez said.
Ramirez is one of the seven finalists along with insiders Assistant Chief Avery Moore and Major Malik Aziz. Aziz was demoted from Deputy Chief by Hall after being a competitor in the 2017 chief selection. He is currently a finalist for the Milwaukee police chief position.
The other Dallas finalists include Albert Martinez, head of security for the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and a former Dallas Deputy Chief; Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey; Police Chief Eddie Garcia of San Jose, California and Chief RaShall Brackney from Charlottesville, Virginia.
Dallas police officers also had input through a survey answered by about 1,000 officers.
“They want a police chief that’s more engaged with them on what is expected and what we are doing as a police department,” said Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata. “I think we need a new style and new tactics.”
Terrance Hopkins, President of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas, said a new chief must juggle the need for crime-fighting and community demands.
“Of course there’s concern about reform and what that looks like and how deep that will go. So, that next leader will have to be just on top of his game, his or her game,” Hopkins said.
Hispanic community leader Rene Martinez who served as a co-chair of Mayor Eric Johnson’s task force for safer communities said Hall was slow to recognize the Hispanic community.
“Our department has a morale problem. Our department has a leadership problem. Our department has a void at that top leadership level,” Martinez said.
Now, Martinez said the city that is 41% Hispanic needs a bilingual police chief.
“I think it’s our turn. We’ve had two African American chiefs over the past 10 years. And I think it’s our turn now,” he said.
Discussing the crime problem Monday, Dallas City council Members quizzed District Attorney John Creuzot over the large number of arrested people who quickly get out of jail.
Police records show all of the people arrested in several warrant round ups the past few months have already been released from jail.
“When one of our key violent crime strategies is that we're arresting individuals and we say, ‘Hey come in for a couple days and then you're back out,’ there's a break down in that system,” City Councilman Adam McGough said.
District Attorney Creuzot said efforts to create better facilities at the Dallas County Jail for communication about release proceedings have failed but that a threat level assessment is made on people being evaluated for release.
As a former Judge himself, who made many decisions about setting offenders free, Creuzot said it is a very difficult choice.
“I can tell you there’ is no magic formula that’s going to ensure that every single person who is arrested doesn’t get out and commit some new offense,” he said.
With Hall absent from the final City Council review of 2020 Dallas violent crime-fighting, the current police command staff said the strategy would remain the same, as they wait for instructions from a new chief.