National, state and local police associations joined Wednesday to call for “a change in the leadership philosophy” at the Dallas Police Department.
The Dallas Police Association has been especially vocal about Brown’s leadership. But they got help from the cavalry on Wednesday. Representatives descended on Dallas from the Texas Municipal Police Association, the National Association Of Police Organizations, the National Black Police Association, the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police and the national and state Fraternal Order of Police. Flanking the leaders on stage were about 20 Dallas police officers.
“We are here today, unified by our belief that the Dallas Police Department is broken,” said Rochelle Bilal, the vice chair of the National Black Police Association.
Earlier Wednesday, Bilal’s group issued a news release calling for Brown’s resignation. But at the news conference, each association’s speaker tiptoed around the issue, instead urging city officials to take action.
The implication, though, was clear: they want Brown to go, one way or another.
Bilal said officers reached out to the national group about Brown’s management style that they claimed was unfair. They alleged he promoted his friends and retaliated against officers who spoke out by transferring them to undesirable positions, she said. She declined to detail specific cases, saying she feared worse retaliation for those officers. But she said the problems came to a boiling point.
“At some point, it has to stop,” she said. “We decided we have to be part of this effort to be part of a new philosophy and a new direction.”
National Fraternal Order of Police President Chuck Canterbury, whose organization claims to have the largest membership in the country, said the fact that he and Bilal flew into Dallas and were joined by so many other groups, was “a bold statement.”
The officials said their opposition to Brown had nothing to do with race, as other officer groups have claimed.
“The National Black Police Association denounces Brown’s supporters who claim that this is nothing more than a group of whites striking at a black chief,” the group said, adding it “believes race has no bearing, and if used, it is simply an excuse to reverse the focus from the real issues of rising crime and a deflated police force.”
Cletus Judge, the local Black Police Association of Greater Dallas’ president, has defended Brown’s leadership. That group and the national association severed ties during Judge’s tenure as president, and Bilal said Judge has not asked his members what they think and is acting on his own.
The groups’ call comes a week after three City Council members privately met with City Manager A.C. Gonzalez about Brown’s future. Mayor Mike Rawlings said they tried to get Gonzalez to force Brown out, but two of the council members denied discussing anything but Brown’s possible retirement.
In an email Wednesday, Brown said he stood by his earlier response – that the unions’ attacks on him are “part of the job” for past Dallas chiefs and police leaders nationwide.
“Through my faith, I embrace the challenges ahead,” Brown said.
Rawlings and Gonzalez have both publicly backed Brown, who has seen crime statistics continue to fall in his tenure.
Brown, who has held the job since 2010, had on Monday responded to the turmoil by calling for prayers for reconciliation from people of faith. Brown’s department is currently challenged by growing response times, a spike in violent crime this year, higher-than-usual attrition numbers and low morale.
Brown also vowed to fight for higher pay for officers to be more competitive with surrounding cities, but ultimately has no say in the matter other than his ability to use the bully pulpit.
The chief plans to reassign dozens of officers from the metro task force and community engagement programs to help patrol officers handle 911 calls. He had used overtime during the summer to keep patrol officers on duty longer to help combat the violent crime uptick.
Michael Mata, the vice president of the Dallas Police Association, called the move to reassign officers “a very small Band-Aid on a very large gash.”
Ron Pinkston, the group’s president, said policies have become too burdensome and that the chief was “vindictive.” And although the association had made some progress on a few issues, Pinkston said efforts to work with the chief have repeatedly come up short.
This post will be updated as the day goes on. Follow Tristan Hallman on Twitter@TristanHallman and Naomi Martin at @NaomiMartin. For more on this story, listen to the Dallas Morning News reporters’ podcast, Texas CrimeCast, episode out tomorrow on iTunes.