In one of the toughest jobs imaginable — police chief of a major city — during one of that city’s greatest crises ever, David Brown has provided a textbook lesson in leadership. Calm and cool, resolute and steely-eyed, candid and courageous and humble and compassionate, Dallas’ top cop has been pitch-perfect in handling an outrageously tragic and evil situation. How ironic that, just months before, critics were calling for the chief’s head. Thank goodness that, when push came to shove, Mayor Mike Rawlings and others didn’t knuckle under to the whining.
From the get-go last Thursday night, Chief Brown has exhibited true leadership. Even as his officers and others were being shot at on the streets of Dallas by a twisted monster, the chief, with Rawlings by his side, communicated the situation clearly to an anxious public. At the same time, he was helping concoct the bold plan that would eliminate the threat.
Then, over the next few days, he spoke tough truths plainly. The police don’t feel supported in their communities, he said. Society dumps its problems on the backs of cops, he added, and unreasonably expects the police to solve them. Then, in a stroke of pure genius, he challenged the protesters whose march over events in Minnesota and Louisiana touched off this maelstrom: “We’re hiring. Get off that protest line and put an application in. And we’ll put you in your neighborhood, and we will help you resolve some of the problems you’re protesting about.”
Today, the politicians are preparing to say a lot of pretty words at the Meyerson about this Dallas crisis. But no one will have more credibility on the topic — especially with the families of the fallen — than the police chief who led us through it with grit, honesty, sympathy, humility, and grace. I’m not an especially religious person, but God bless David Brown.