There was strong reaction Wednesday to the C- grade Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall gave herself for her handling of police reform protests earlier this year.
Hall’s self-evaluation came Tuesday at a special Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee meeting at which Hall delivered the “After Action Report” on the demonstration that occurred May 29 through June 1.
The strongest council member criticism Tuesday centered on the June 1 demonstration on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.
Days after the bridge protest, Hall told Council Members at a public meeting that no tear gas was used on the bridge. The new report said tear gas was used.
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Councilman Omar Narvaez said he relied on the earlier information from Hall in talking with community leaders.
“I’m outraged as a council member and I am outraged as a person who lives in the city of Dallas, that even in this report, I don’t know who to trust,” Narvaez said.
Several council members disputed police claims that demonstrators were blocked from entering the bridge in the first place.
Councilman Adam Medrano said he was there that night.
“I felt there were cover-ups, very disappointed in those parts of the report,” Medrano said. “I know what I saw.”
The C- grade Hall gave herself Tuesday came in response to a question from Medrano.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata said Hall went too easy on herself with that grade.
“We need to hold people accountable who make the decisions within this Police Department,” Mata said.
Mata, the leader of the largest Dallas police union, said commanders failed officers because there was a lack of clear direction during the four days of protests.
As citizens complain about police over-reaction, Mata said many officers were left to fend for themselves during the demonstrations.
“How do you hold the rank and file responsible for that? That’s why we have or should have, an experienced chain of command, who know what to do and when to do it. And when you don’t have that, poor decisions are made and bad things happen,” Mata said.
Black Police Association President Terrance Hopkins said Hall graded herself too harshly.
“This city managed these events better than most large cities throughout the country. Some of those cities are still burning,” Hopkins said.
In the past, Hopkins said Dallas Police have not allowed demonstrators to protest on highways. He said condoning a demonstration on a highway bridge is not appropriate.
“No, we shouldn’t allow that. That’s what public safety is all about. So, why is it that members of our Public Safety Committee don’t understand that? So, there’s a big disconnect there,” Hopkins said.
Tarleton State Criminal Justice Professor Alex Del Carmen said police chiefs typically do not publicly grade themselves because they need to maintain the confidence of their officers and the public.
“That was kind of a surprise to me that she gave herself a self-assessment at this point,” Del Carmen said.
The criminal justice expert conducts state-required training for Texas Police Chiefs which he said Hall has received.
“We constantly remind them about transparency, legitimacy, and being able to implement accountability within their police organizations,” Del Carmen said.
He reviewed the 85-page “After Action Report” that was presented to the City Council Committee Tuesday.
“In their crowd control mode that the Dallas Police Department was in, they failed at de-escalating, in my view, and the report actually supports that notion as well,” he said.
Clearly looting and property damage required law enforcement during those days, but Del Carmen said commanders failed to manage the response.
“I think the point here is, what is the mechanism by which they could have done that? And was the force that they used required and necessary in those particular instances? And I think what the report says that there were opportunities that they simply missed,” Del Carmen said.
Chief Hall has said changes will be made. Del Carmen said she must embrace the changes City Council Members demand.
In the Dallas form of government, City Council Members have budget and policy oversight, but it is City Manager T.C. Broadnax who hires and fires the Police Chief.
Through a spokesperson Wednesday, Broadnax decline comment on personnel matters. The spokesperson said Broadnax shares his thoughts with Hall.