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City of Dallas Reaches Three-Year ‘Agreement’ With Police Chief Eddie García

The apparent cold war between Dallas, Austin, and Houston regarding our police chief has come to an end.
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Dallas Police Chief Eddie García, photographed in a conference room at headquarters in 2022.

The city of Dallas has reached an “agreement” with the police chief to keep him here for at least the next three years. The news was announced through a carefully worded press release from Interim City Manager Kim Tolbert that refers to this arrangement as a “plan” and a “commitment” but not a “contract,” which is something the city charter wouldn’t allow.

Dallas’ city charter defines department leaders like Chief Eddie García as at-will employees, meaning they’re welcome to walk and the city manager is welcome to fire them. That also makes them targets for other cities looking for a new top cop. The release says the “agreement” is “an addendum to the chief’s initial offer letter” and was signed Thursday afternoon. The new terms include a twice-annual $10,000 retention bonus and a commitment to remain in Dallas until May 2027. If he gets fired, he’ll get a full year’s salary, worth $306,440.40. If he resigns or is convicted “of an offense of moral turpitude or a felony criminal act,” he won’t receive anything.

“To live and work in Dallas is to love Dallas,” García said in a statement. “This is the right place to complete my service, and I know your police officers are honored to serve Dallas residents. We will keep doing our jobs with excellence and results.”

García became big news last week with sudden police chief openings in Houston and Austin. Former Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax is now running the show in the capitol city, and the close relationship he had with García alarmed City Hall about possible wandering eyes. Houston Mayor John Whitmire has been rumored to want García in the state’s largest city, particularly after implementing a violent crime reduction plan that’s showing results.

Dallas’ chief stayed mum as the rumor mill whirred. But it wasn’t the first time the matter of his employment came up. City Councilman Adam McGough told me about how 18 months ago, when he was still on the Council and chairing the public safety committee, the cop associations suggested to him that the city manager should get the chief on a contract or at least a more formal arrangement to provide more job security. Mayor Eric Johnson had tried and failed to fire Broadnax, and the associations were worried that the political winds might make García curious about positions elsewhere.  

But the boss wasn’t willing to set a precedent by giving the police chief a contract, despite García’s success in implementing a strategy that has actually reduced violent crime. At the time, the thinking was, if the police chief gets a contract, then maybe others at his level would also want one. But now, with Broadnax out of the picture, there was a willingness to take the risk in order to keep the chief.

“This was complicated, but we got it done,” read a portion of Tolbert’s statement, which preceded a tortured football metaphor that I’ll spare you.

I’ve asked the city for clarification about how this “arrangement” is binding without being a contract. But it appears the workaround was to amend the chief’s offer letter, which allowed the city to stay within the parameters set by the charter.

Author

Matt Goodman

Matt Goodman

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Matt Goodman is the online editorial director for D Magazine. He's written about a surgeon who killed, a man who…
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