Photo by Elizabeth Lavin

Media

Setting the Record Straight on Chief Reneé Hall

The DPD's top cop has taken issue with how we quoted her. Here's the tape.

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.

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Comments

  • Sam Merten

    Props to Jamie for rolling tape. I almost always recorded my interviews when I was a reporter for this precise reason.

    Chief Hall’s comment is misinformed. Kunkle had plenty of bad press during his tenure, highlighted by his crime reporting issues. And if he received better overall media coverage, could it not have been because he was simply a better chief than say, effin’ Bolton?

    Plus, how would she know about media coverage in Dallas? She just moved here. There’s plenty of legitimate racism in this city, but don’t play the race card unless you have facts on your side.

    • OldLakeHighlander

      “. . how would she know about media coverage in Dallas?” Really? That’s a question? In 2018?
      Ok Sam, it’s called the “World Wide Web.” It is a series of tubes with ones and zeroes in them. You ask it a question and it gives you an answer. People that want to know stuff use it all the time. Give it a try.

      • Sam Merten

        Smart-ass anonymous comments are certainly your specialty. So you’re suggesting that Chief Hall has searched the internet and read the hundreds of stories written during the tenures of Chiefs Bolton, Kunkle and Brown? If that’s true, she’s paranoid and has too much free time on her hands for someone with such an important gig.

        • OldLakeHighlander

          Hey Sammy, really like the “hundreds of stories” and “paranoia” angle. Nice. Who ‘ya shilling for this time?

          Ever heard of Due Diligence? Like wanting to know what kind of rat’s nest you are walking into? It would be the height of stupidity to NOT research the writings about past police chiefs before accepting the position. You think maybe TC gave her some articles on past Chiefs to review to understand the political climate of this city? Maybe? Perchance?

          I realize that you probably had not eaten at McDonalds before you got your current job there, but some people actually do research about their employer before applying for and accepting jobs.

          BTW, NOT understanding you constituency is why you lost so badly in your council race. Apparently you have still not learned that lesson.

          • You’re close, OLH. Watch it.

            After Hall got to town, a former public official with deep knowledge of DPD operations offered to have a coffee with her and describe the lay of the land. She never took this person up on the offer. So it would surprise me if she did a deep dive in the DMN archives (and WFAA’s and …) before she was hired.

          • OldLakeHighlander

            Ya know, she might just be grown up enough to do her own research, make her own decisions, and take the consequences as they come. What do we call that nowadays? Leadership or Recklessness? I can never remember.

  • mrEmannE

    I think Chief Hall is aware of the fact that hers is a highly politicized position, and is doing what she can to maintain equilibrium as she transitions the department. This is a day and age when virtually no public official views their pronouncements as being accurately reported, whether they were or not.
    And just for my own record, I thought that picture was one Killer shot!

  • Melissa Romig

    I thought all of Elizabeth’s photos were marvelous. I love her work, and these were superb examples of her skill.

  • OldLakeHighlander

    Sometimes when there is smoke, it is from someone trying to set bullshit on fire.

  • JamieT

    Will Chief Hall carry on DPD’s policy of separating detainees from their children?

    • Happy Bennett

      No– Clay Jenkins plans a tax payer funded block party for the poor little urchins…

    • OldLakeHighlander

      As in placing them in foster homes or with family members? Yes, most likely. As in placing them in a tent city with no earthly idea what you are going to do with them? No, probably not.