The Police Chief Search and the State of the City

By Mayor Eric Johnson
City of Dallas Mayor

On Tuesday [December 8th], I had the incredible privilege of delivering the annual State of the City address from the Hall of State in Fair Park.

The speech, the first public State of the City address in recent history, touched on COVID-19 response efforts, plans for the city’s economic recovery, setting goals for lowering the property tax rate, proposals to help provide greater equity, and the need to prioritize public safety and homelessness. That meant talking about the city’s strengths, where City Hall has fallen short, and the direction that Dallas needs in the years to come.

And more broadly, it was also a speech about building a city government that is as strong as the people of Dallas. That means mastering the basics, pushing for accountability, helping underserved communities, and ensuring the focus of elected officials is squarely on fighting for your interests.

You can read coverage of the State of the City from The Dallas Morning NewsWFAAFox 4WBAP, and KRLD. But because these stories only reflect snippets of the State of the City address, I highly recommend reading the full text of the speech or watching the video, which you can do here

Now, to the news of the day…

Police chief search

The city manager has named seven finalists for the police chief position, listed here alphabetically by last name:

Malik Aziz, a Dallas police major who formerly held the rank of deputy chief.

RaShall Brackney, the police chief in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Eddie Garcia, the police chief in San Jose, California.

Albert Martinez, a former Dallas deputy police chief who now serves as director of security for the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.

Avery Moore, a Dallas assistant police chief.

Reuben Ramirez, a Dallas deputy police chief.

Jeff Spivey, the police chief in Irving.

The city manager earlier this week announced that he had created six panels that will interview the finalists, as is his prerogative. Take a look at the list of organizations the city manager has selected to speak on behalf of the Dallas community in this memo (starting on the third page). Some parts of Dallas aren’t represented very well or at all, which is troubling.

As you know, I have advocated for a process that directly engages the public. Other cities have public forums for finalists, so why not Dallas? The next police chief will need to be an effective community advocate and partner. It’s imperative that the city manager get this decision right on behalf of the people of Dallas.

The city manager also released some survey results on the police chief search. These survey results also underrepresented people of color, which makes it even more important to have as many opportunities for community involvement as possible before the city manager makes his final decision.

But here are some of the key findings released on the survey, which received more than 4,500 responses.

The top five qualifications that respondents wanted to see in the police chief were:

1) Track record of reducing crime and promoting community safety (69.73 percent)

2) Practices transparency and openness (58.10 percent)

3) A track record of building community trust (54.33 percent)

4) Experience recruiting and retaining quality personnel (54.22 percent)

5) Understands the history of policing in the US, including racism and bias (44.83 percent)

The top five priorities listed by respondents as their highest priority were:

1) Reduce violent crime (77.28 percent)

2) Holding officers/staff accountable (68.61 percent)

3) Building trust in our community (60.93 percent)

4) Strengthening police/community partnerships (60.39 percent)

5) Community policing and problem-solving (52.07 percent)

The people were clear on this survey: They want crime reduction, crime reduction, and more crime reduction. And trustworthiness, accountability, and community policing bona fides to boot.

But more information ought to be provided for analysis, such as the responses broken down along demographic lines. And the public and City Councilmembers should be able to read the raw responses to the survey’s open-ended question. The city manager has so far provided only an analysis of those responses based on broad themes.

You can contact your City Councilmembers and tell them what you want out of this process and the next police chief.

Key City Council votes

The City Council on Wednesday had its final meeting of 2020. That meant ugly holiday sweaters, lengthy discussion, and numerous important votes.

Among the key items: the renewal of a contract to provide Dallas police with ammunition, almost exclusively for training purposes (two City Councilmembers voted against it); the purchase of two hotels for sheltering people experiencing homelessness after they have tested positive for COVID-19; a step forward on the implementation of the Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan; several items to improve the city’s water infrastructure; and an interlocal cooperation agreement with Dallas ISD to procure cell network services to help close the city’s digital divide for students during the pandemic.

All in a day’s work. The City Council still has a few committee meetings left, but otherwise, they’ll be back in January.

Stay engaged and stay safe. And have a great day.

Until next time,

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