Speaking of the Chief…

If any lesson could be drawn from the blame game between outgoing Police Chief Bill Rathburn and City Manager Jan Hart over the Dallas Cowboys’ parade fiasco (“Did not!” “Did so!”), it’s that big-city police chiefs must have public-relations savvy. And no recent DPD topkick has needed an image-infusion more than acting chief Robert Jackson.

Jackson’s detractors in and out of the police department say he is a relative lightweight promoted through affirmative action practices into a position beyond his experience. His supporters wince as he fumbles through encounters with the media and other public officials.

Recently, rumors mongered at City Hall had Jackson taking lessons from crisis communications gurus Lisa LeMaster and Ken Fairchild, who have groomed numerous CEOs and politicos (among them Mayor Sieve Bartlett and state Rep. Steve Wolens). Jackson’s costly tutors were being paid, gossips said, by oilman Ray Hunt.

But a police department spokesman speaking for Jackson says it isn’t so: “He would love to, but he can’t afford it” -and besides, city officials are barred from accepting gifts. A few days later, City Councilman Paul Fielding also asked Jackson the same question in open session, and got the same answer.

LeMaster would neither confirm nor deny that Jackson was a client, and she objected to this story running for fear it would do unnecessary harm to Jackson’s reputation. She would say only that she has often worked with the police department (including former chief Mack Vines) in the past-“almost all of it on a volunteer basis”-and that she was not currently doing work for the DPD.

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