Latinos to City: Hispanic Should Lead Police Department

DPD Police Chief U. Reneé Hall/Photo by Eva D. Coleman
DPD Police Chief U. Reneé Hall/Photo by Eva D. Coleman

By Ashley Moss
Staff Writer

Update on Thursday, September 10 at 5:31 p.m.: Revised to include a response from the Dallas Police Department

Leaders of two Hispanic organizations—one within Dallas Police and another outside—called for city administrators to hire a Hispanic to replace the outgoing chief on September 9.

The night before, Police Chief U. Reneé Hall informed city administrators she planned to leave her position by the end of the year. 

DPD Police Chief U. Reneé Hall/ Photo provided by Eva D. Coleman
DPD Police Chief U. Reneé Hall/ Photo by Eva D. Coleman

A day later, the president of a Latino officers association, said Hall had failed to galvanize the support of Latinos within the department—and outside of it.

“We had some huge concerns about her not being able to meet with a majority of the population,” said George Aranda, president of the Greater Dallas Chapter of the National Latino Law Enforcement Organization. “Our city is suffering. Our community is suffering. Our citizens are suffering. Crime is at an all-time high. 

“We have communities that are looking for a chief that can lead,” said Aranda, who is a sergeant and supervisor of Dallas Police Department’s Recruiting Unit.

George Aranda, president of the Greater Dallas Chapter of the National Latino Law Enforcement Organization/LinkedIn
George Aranda, president of the Greater Dallas Chapter of the National Latino Law Enforcement Organization/LinkedIn

“I think it’s time for a Latino,” he said. “We have some good internal Latino candidates that could lead.” 

Outside of Dallas Police Department, the head of a leading Latino civil rights organization, said Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax should hire someone of Latin descent as Hall’s successor.

Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax/ Dallas City Hall Twitter
Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax | Photo Courtesy of Dallas City Hall/Twitter

“I think that it’s time for Dallas to find a qualified Latino,” said Rene Martinez, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens Chapter 100 in Dallas. “We’ve had African-American chiefs that have been good, but we are 42 percent of the community.

Rene Martinez/ Photo Courtesy of North Dallas Bulldog Support League
Rene Martinez/Photo Courtesy of North Dallas Bulldog Support League

“I think it’s time for the manager to go select a Latino who can lift morale and focus on the crime rate and who knows how to allocate resources,” he said. 

A statement sent to Texas Metro news on Thursday by Warren Mitchell, Sergeant of Police and a member of DPD’s Media Relations Office, lauded Chief Hall’s experience.

“As it relates to her community engagement, Chief Hall recognizes the importance of meeting with all members of our diverse community,” the statement read. “She has met on numerous occasions with leaders of the Hispanic community. Chief Hall has attended various UNIDOS town hall and community meetings where she had the pleasure of engaging with members of the Hispanic community. In addition, she has promoted several Latino members on the department to command level positions so as to reflects the demographics seen throughout Dallas.”

Meanwhile, a representative of the city’s Black law enforcement officers, said it was nearly impossible for Hall to please diverse racial and ethnic groups within the city. The chief came to Dallas in 2017 after working 18 years as an administrator in the Detroit police department.

“This is a tough market for any new chief whether it was an in-house candidate or an outsider,” said Terrance Hopkins, president of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas. “The fact that she was an outsider made it even more difficult for her.” 

Terrance Hopkins,President Black Police Association/Twitter
Terrance Hopkins, President Black Police Association/Twitter

Hopkins called Hall’s impending departure “a major loss.” He said the city’s own fractured political environment was challenging for Hall’s leadership and for the department’s effective policing.

“A lot of games were played—political games with city council, the mayor’s office—different things like that,” he said. “Folks were not on the same team when you look at government structure. This could have easily been worked out and not ended up in the resignation of our chief.” 

Hall herself cited unspecified hardships in her resignation letter. 

“It has not been easy,” she wrote. “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.”

Still, Hall wrote in her resignation letter, she was proud that the department had coped with “an unthinkable series of events…and we have also managed to implement critical reforms that were clearly needed for the Dallas Police Department to meet our 21st Century policing goals.” 

Aranda, the president of the National Latino Law Enforcement Organizations, said Hall lacked the experienced to develop alliances with the city’s huge Mexican American and other Latin citizens and deserved “an ‘F’” grade in that area.

“We had some huge concerns about her not being able to meet with a majority of the population,” Sgt. Aranda said.

Martinez, of LULAC, agreed, saying the chief’s departure was “just a matter of time.” 

“I and a lot of my peers in the Latino community, we are not really surprised,” he said. “Some of us expected it pretty soon, based on all the things that were happening, with the lack of a comprehensive crime plan and the loss of confidence by the city council. It was just a matter of time.” 

Martinez said Hall’s departmental changes caused some officers to lose confidence in her administration.

The changes, “were not necessarily good within the department, so she lost a lot of support from the rank and file of the police department,” Martinez said. “So the morale really dipped down.” 

Hopkins, who is African American, said structural changes within the Dallas Police Department long were overdue.

“If I’m looking for mistakes, it’s hard for me to point the finger at her because I understood the changes that needed to take place in Dallas,” Hopkins said. 

“You needed to restructure the command staff. I understand that,” he said. “A lot of guys didn’t understand that, nor did they want that to happen, but it had been something that had been talked about for years because we were too top heavy at a command staff level.” 

Still, some community residents said Hall’s departure was hastened not by racial divides, but by the chief’s slow responses to unified protests among all city residents over police use of excessive force and outdated community policing tactics.

Carlos Quintanilla, a Latino who is seeking to represent U.S. House District 33, said he believed Hall did a “fair job” as chief but had made inexperienced mistakes.

“She did not have a clear vision of where she wanted to go as the Dallas chief of police,” he said, adding that Hall underestimated powerful activists seeking immediate changes in community policing.

He said the community will move on.

“The big challenge now for all of us is who is going to replace her,” he said. “Will he or she be White, Black or Latino?”

Valerie Fields Hill contributed to this report.