Over the weekend, I got a call from Tristan Hallman at the Morning News seeking a response to some claims made by Chief Reneé Hall about how we handled a profile of her in the May issue of D Magazine. You can read what Hallman wrote here. Hall has two beefs with D Magazine. The first concerns the photograph you see with this post. Hall said:
“It was my thought that it was more of a fun shot and not going to be used in that matter, and that was one that was actually used. That’s the thing about art. It’s different things to different people.”
First, on behalf of our staff photographer, Elizabeth Lavin, I would like to thank the chief for her assessment of the photograph’s merits. I, too, see it as art. It’s a great shot. But I have no idea what she means by saying she thought it was “more of a fun shot and not going to be used in that matter.” Chief Hall brought that outfit to the shoot. She assumed the pose. She knew the shot was for the profile we were publishing. What’s more, she saw the picture on the day of the shoot and said she liked it.
Hall’s other beef was with how she was quoted by our writer, Jamie Thompson. Here’s the passage from the DMN:
Hall distanced herself from a quote in the story alleging that she was a victim of racial bias from news reporters. In the story, she said former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, who is white, was treated differently than David Brown, his successor, and Terrell Bolton, his predecessor. More specifically, she said: “I don’t believe Kunkle got the kind of media coverage that I’m getting. Brown did. Bolton did. And we’re all black.”
Hall said that she talked about the subject with the reporter, but that the words were “not my statements” and actually came from “people inside the police department that were sitting in my office at the time that interview was taking place.”
That is, in fact, what Hall said. The conversation took place in the back of her Tahoe, with Hall’s driver at the wheel. As it happens, Jamie was recording the conversation. You can listen for yourself:
A couple points: Jamie was typing as Hall spoke; you can hear her laptop keyboard in the background. Jamie didn’t listen to the tape until today. But she did almost certainly read that quote back to Hall before we published it. Jamie can’t say with 100 percent certainty that she did this, but that is certainly Jamie’s M.O. — to ensure that she didn’t mishear or misinterpret her subject. Jamie recalls thinking that Hall might balk at the quote; Hall didn’t. Yes, the quote we printed wasn’t precise. Jamie’s notes were a few words off from what the chief said. But there’s no question that Jamie faithfully conveyed the chief’s sentiment.
I’m hopeful that Chief Hall will lead the department through the tough spot it now faces. In the coming weeks, when we learn why she dismantled the vice unit, our impression of her might quickly rise. But right now she seems to be having trouble keeping out of her own way.