DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – For the first time since announcing his retirement, Dallas Police Chief David Brown opened up about his decision to leave the department that he has served for 33 years.
“It’s hard taking the uniform off. It’s part of the reason I don’t want a long goodbye.”
Brown will be on the job until October 22nd, and he says he’s looking forward to turning in his department-issued cell phone. “It is so emotional. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, but the time is right.”
The chief says he’s leaving because he doesn’t want to overstay his welcome.
He’s this city’s longest-serving chief. “Police chiefs’ average tenure in this country is three years, and I’m over six headed toward seven. The shelf-life has expired and it’s time to pass the baton to someone else. I think I leave the department in great shape.”
Mayor Mike Rawlings has praised Brown for overseeing the largest crime reduction of any chief in the city’s history.
Brown credited community policing with some of the lowest crime levels the department has seen.
He said it played a key role during the Dixon Circle shooting in July, 2012. A white police officer shot and killed a black suspect. Officers received credit for keeping the growing crowds from becoming violent.
Brown said there were a lot of rumors that day, but he says because he and the department were transparent, they were able to quickly release the facts. “We had a near-riot. We had a pre-Ferguson event, and without my holding a press conference by the next news cycle, it’s likely we would have been Ferguson before Ferguson became Ferguson.”
Since then, Dallas has become nationally-renown for embracing de-escalation training for its officers.
Brown’s departure comes after he received nationwide praise for his leadership after the deadly police shootings July 7th.
He said he will never forget the families of the five officers who were killed that night.
Chief Brown also has his critics, and he occasionally butted heads with the city’s police associations. They twice called for him to resign.
The associations criticized how he disciplined the officers and questioned whether they properly received due process.
Recently, the associations sharply disagreed with Brown’s plan to give them raises and hire new officers.
Some officers say the chief created an atmosphere of low morale, but Brown disputed that. “There are so many constituencies that tug at the coat-tails of a chief, and I’ve just taken the position, you can’t make everyone happy. Stick to your principles and make tough decisions.”
Brown’s tenure has also been marked by personal tragedy.
In 2010, just seven weeks after he became chief, his son, who had a mental illness, was shot and killed by police after he murdered a Lancaster police officer and another man.
Chief Brown thanked a former President for his support. “George W. Bush visited my church quite a bit. He attended a men’s day soon after my son’s tragedy and reached out to me, made a point in my church to give me a shout-out.”
After announcing his retirement, the Chief says he’s received a number of opportunities.
But he wouldn’t give specifics. “I’m not going to share the offers with you. That’s between me and my baby.”
The chief did say he wants to get the word out to young people of color to tell them how important it is to participate in public service such as becoming a police officer and patrolling the neighborhoods they grew up in.
Chief Brown quit his senior year at UT Austin to join the police department because his Oak Cliff neighborhood was deteriorating.
After he leaves, the city will soon conduct a nationwide search for a new chief.
Because the current city manager, A.C. Gonzalez, is retiring, the new city manager will oversee the hiring of a new police chief.
District 9 Councilman Mark Clayton praised Chief Brown and said he wants the next chief to “Build off community-policing he’s done, bring a fresh perspective from around the country and say here’s how we can do it even better.”
District 4 Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold said she hopes the next chief will “Very much be committed to and dedicated to a positive vision in this community and city, someone who is grounded and most definitely very concerned about the outreach.”
(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)