Before Christmas, the city will learn who the next chief of the Dallas Police Department will be. This week, the City Council, mayor, community stakeholders, and the public got a glimpse of the seven candidates vying for the position. On Tuesday, dozens of community groups participated in private group panels with the candidates. Yesterday the finalists fielded questions posed by City Council candidates during a three-hour-plus livestream. While the decision is City Manager T.C. Broadnax’s alone, the candidates spent hours introducing themselves to the people they’ll be working for.
The seven candidates are close in their thinking about how to manage a police department, stem rising violent crime, and implement reforms to meet the challenges of community distrust and historical racism that all large American cities have had to confront in the wake of the George Floyd protests.
John Fullinwider, a longtime civil rights activist and co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, sat on one of the community panels on Tuesday. He said all seven candidates seemed to understand that building community trust and combating violent crime both required rethinking the ways police departments operate — and what the cops can and cannot control.
“I was surprised how open the candidates were to defunding and reallocating resources, more so than most elected officials,” Fullinwider said. “On crime reduction, it was basically hot-spot or ‘cops on dots’ policing for the short term and investments in ‘root causes’ long term. None supported saturation patrol, like last year’s state troopers, because of how it alienates residents. All were aware that street crime has its origin in poverty and lack of opportunity. How much they would advocate that their new boss in Dallas seriously address inequality on the necessary scale is anyone’s guess.”
The candidates’ messaging didn’t change on Wednesday, when the panel was opened to the public. Four are present or former high-ranking Dallas cops: Maj. Malik Aziz, Assistant Chief Avery Moore, Deputy Chief Reuben Ramirez, and former Deputy Chief Albert Martinez. (Martinez is now the head of security for the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.) The out-of-towners included Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey, outgoing San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia, and Charlottesville, Virginia, Chief RaShall Brackney.Read More