DALLAS (AP) — Dallas police Chief David Brown announced his retirement Thursday, bringing an end to a tenure marked by clashes with police unions but perhaps most notably by widespread praise for his response to a July sniper attack that killed five officers.
Brown issued a statement saying he will retire Oct. 22 after 33 years with Dallas police and six years as chief. He was not immediately available for additional comment.
“I became a Dallas cop in 1983 because of the crack cocaine epidemic’s impact on my neighborhood,” he said in the statement. “I wanted to be part of the solution. Since that time I have taken great pride in knowing that we have always been part of the solution and helped to make Dallas the world class city it is today.”
Arguably his defining moment leading a department of more than 3,600 officers was his steady, measured response to the July 7 fatal shootings of four Dallas officers and one transit officer during a protest march downtown. He drew broad praise from President Barack Obama and others for his leadership during one of the most wrenching times in the department’s history.
Brown emerged as the steady and charismatic face of the city in the days after the shootings by an Army veteran who was motivated by revenge in the wake of police shootings elsewhere that killed or injured black men. The gunman was killed when police deployed a bomb-carrying robot.
At a memorial service for the slain Dallas officers, Brown spent part of his time reciting Stevie Wonder’s “I’ll Be Loving You Always” to express his affection for his officers. His later call for those who were protesting mistreatment of black men to join the police ranks prompted a surge in applications.
Mayor Mike Rawlings said during a news conference Thursday that Brown was “leaving on his own terms” and that the announcement didn’t come as a surprise because six years as the chief of a metropolitan police force is an “eternity.”
Brown was the longest-serving police chief in Dallas in recent decades, Rawlings said. He noted the job is challenging because of the pressure that comes with it and its “highly political” demands.
The mayor credited Brown with transforming the department by reducing the number of officer-involved shootings and implementing other measures.
“David brown is a straight-forward man; he’s a man of integrity and courage,” Rawlings said. “He’s a man who believes in the simple proposition of doing what is right and to treat everyone with respect.”
Brown’s tenure also was marked by tumultuous times as he clashed with police union leaders and others.
Dallas earlier this year dealt with a surge in violent crime that reversed a decadelong decrease in killings and prompted friction between Brown and rank-and-file officers on how to combat the issue. He sought to reassign hundreds of officers to target high-crime neighborhoods and bulk up staffing on the 4 p.m. to midnight shift, but the plan provoked intense backlash and he backed away from implementing it. At least one police union called for his resignation amid the turmoil.
He’s also drawn criticism from unions for not doing enough to retain many officers who have left for better pay elsewhere.
Rawlings praised the chief for pushing for greater transparency, but authorities since the sniper attack have refused public records requests for police reports, 911 calls, audio and video recordings, autopsy documents, crime scene photos and other materials.
Brown told the City Council last month that much of the information about the attack could be withheld for an indefinite period during an investigation into whether the use of force was justified.
But remarks by Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday reflect how Brown likely will be long linked to the July attack.
“At no time was his exemplary leadership more evident than in the aftermath of the heinous shooting of law enforcement officers this July in Dallas,” Abbott said in a statement. “Thanks to his unwavering commitment to protecting his community, Dallas has emerged even stronger.”