DALLAS - In his first public address since announcing his retirement, Dallas Police Chief David Brown shed light on becoming the face of a city in mourning after tragedy struck in July.
Brown gained national recognition in the wake of the ambush-style attack on Dallas officers on July 7. The same chief who had been criticized for an unprecedented overhaul in scheduling within the department just months before was being lauded as a hero.
He revealed Thursday that the attention made him uncomfortable. The whispers of him becoming increasingly powerful didn’t feel right, he said.
“My [in]ability to serve and be criticized and have my job at stake was uncomfortable,” Brown said. “The job of a public servant is to be criticized.”
“The idea of some notoriety related to a tragedy making me untouchable was distasteful to me.”
Brown, who has served over six years as chief of police, didn’t provide much clarity on his future.
That’s not because of a lack of offers, though.
“I have been receiving quite a few opportunities,” Brown said. “And I’m weighing all of those options.”
He didn’t divulge details on those offers, telling the throng of reporters in the room that the decision was between him and his family.
Brown, who said his “shelf life expired,” reflected on the highs and lows of his 33-year tenure with the department. He spoke of his hopes that community policing efforts continue to help the city, but was also asked about low morale within the department under his leadership.
“There are so many constituencies that tug at the coattails of a chief, and I’ve taken the position that you can’t make everybody happy,” he said. “You stick to your principles and make tough decisions.”
“I never got too low on the low moments, and I’m certainly not getting too high on the high moments,” he said.
He ended with a plea to the public to examine how it values its officers, pointing out the discrepancy between salaries for athletes and officers.
“I wish our officers could throw a fastball, run for 1,000 yards, dunk a basketball or win a Super Bowl and be compensated for it,” he said. “What we’re talking about is public servants like officers, teachers and firefighters, and how the public values entertainment over public service. We’re in a tough negotiation to increase our budget and give our officers a raise.”
He continued to say the issue of officer pay is rooted in American culture, saying sports entertainment is put above officers willing to die for the public’s safety.
“I would just encourage us as citizens -- and I’m soon to be a private citizen -- to also have a voice as it relates to what you value with your tax dollars or with your money, as it relates to paying for a ticket to build a stadium supported by taxpayer dollars, or paying $12 for a beer so a player can get a max contract [...] Why are our officers and our teachers paid so little, and our sports figures paid so much? And how do we reconcile that in our minds?”
Brown’s retirement is effective Oct. 22. Assistant Chief David Pughes will assume the role of interim police chief, and a permanent replacement will be announced by the new city manager in 2017.
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