By Rebecca Aguilar
Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall, the first Black woman to head the city’s police force, will leave the department after three years on the job. She resigned on September 8 and said it would be effective November 10, but Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax asked her to stay on until the end of the year, and the Chief agreed to so.
In her resignation, Hall said she was grateful for the opportunity to serve as Chief in Dallas. “We have accomplished so much by standing together in support of community policing and changes in the way our officers perform their duties in 2020.”
Highly praised when she arrived in Dallas from the Detroit Police Department, the graduate of Grambling State University, who received overwhelming support when first hired, also acknowledged that the job has not been easy. Additionally during her tenure, she dealt with the death of her mother and her own personal health issues that called for a short leave of absence. “These past three years have been saturated with a series of unimaginable events that individually and collectively have never happened in the City of Dallas.”
Hall said she was proud of the implemented critical reform that was needed by the police department. She said she is taking on another job, but would not reveal where she is going. “Let me assure you that I will remain committed to my true calling, which is law enforcement.”
CITY OFFICIALS NOT HAPPY WITH CHIEF HALL’S WORK
During her three years as Dallas’ top cop, Hall has faced criticism from all angles: city officials, police associations, and community leaders.
Dallas’ Mayor was one of her critics. “We cannot sit idly by while children are killed,” said Mayor Eric Johnson at a January press conference after a toddler was killed in a shooting in Dallas. The Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities had released a series of recommendations to reduce violent crime because Johnson said Chief Hall’s plan was not bold enough. “A five percent reduction in violent crime after the year we just had is simply not going to cut it for me,” said the Mayor.
Patricia Allen, the founder of No More Violence, was also not satisfied with Chief Hall’s work. Allen’s organization works with the families of murdered children in Dallas, mostly African-American. She told Texas Metro News that Hall made commitments she did not keep. “She talked about hiring more police officers to patrol the city, and it didn’t happen.”
Allen said if Hall had a plan to reduce crime, she didn’t see it, “She could have come up with a better plan of action, and executed, and possibly saved some lives.”
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata said it’s time the city takes a new direction. He told Texas Metro News, Hall did not make the city better in her three years on the force. “She was brought on the promise from her that she could reduce crime, increase morale, and that she could improve the relationship between the community and the police department. Most people would agree she failed on all three of those permitters of success.”
More than 2800 police officers are members of the Dallas Police Association. Mata believes most officers lost faith in Hall. “It’s about job performance, and if she’s not meeting those standards, we have to move on.”
HALL BLAMED FOR THE LACK OF PLANNING AND COMMUNICATION DURING RECENT PROTESTS
Most recently, Chief Hall was criticized for the police handling of protests in Dallas after the death of George Floyd including the tear-gassing of protestors on the landmark Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. On August 18, the Chief released the Dallas Police Action Review report during a virtual Public Safety Committee Meeting.
The report detailed how the police department handled the protests from May 29 to June 1. The 85-page document revealed a lack of planning and communication. As a result, the police department issued new guidelines on when tear gas should be authorized to be used, additional training on mass arrests, and more effective police body cams.
At the time, Chief Hall said the critical analysis provided a roadmap for change and improvement, especially during peaceful protests. “The report, I hope, reflects our commitment to transparency, integrity, and critical analysis of our actions during this difficult period of time.”
Council members criticized Chief Hall at the same August virtual meeting for not issuing a report on the protests sooner. District 6 Councilmember Omar Narvaez unleashed on her because of the misinformation he received from the police department about the protests. “I can tell you that I’m outraged as a council member, and I’m outraged as a person who lives in the City of Dallas, that even in this report, I don’t know who to trust.”
He told Hall, he didn’t trust her anymore. “Chief Hall, you are our top cop… and I have lost the trust.”
During the meeting, Chief Hall gave herself a “C-” grade in how she handled the protests.
WHAT IS NEEDED IN THE NEXT DALLAS POLICE CHIEF?
The person who takes over as Dallas Police Chief will oversee the 10th largest police department in the country with 3,000 police officers. Those weighing in on who should be the next Dallas Police Chief say the individual should be from inside DPD and must connect with the community.
“I’m looking forward to whoever they hire,” said Patricia Allen, whose organization is currently working with 58 families of murdered children in Dallas County. She said she hopes the next police chief will connect more with grassroots groups like hers. “Working hand in hand with the community, the businesses, the organizations, and the churches. We need to see a change, and know we’re going to get the help we need.”
The Dallas Police Association also said it hopes that the next Chief will come from within the department. “The rank and file need to believe in this chief, that he or she knows what they are talking about, and has skins on the wall,” said Mata. “We have to have someone who can step into the shoes of the Chief and start running.”
The Chief has also had community support from those who say she never stood a chance because of a department that has been under protest for more than three decades. Council Member Carolyn King Arnold believes Chief Hall made concrete changes for police officers.
“In my opinion, when the history book is written about Chief Reneé Hall’s service in Dallas, she will be remembered as an extraordinary police chief who delivered on her promises for reform in the department.”