DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas Police Department headquarters has been a second home to Chief David Brown for more than a decade. And on Thursday morning, it was also where he spoke to the media for the first time after announcing his retirement last week.
“It’s been an honor and it’s been humbling to serve as the Dallas police chief,” Brown said at the start of his speech.
Brown had been on vacation since making his big announcement. Thursday marked his first day back at work. He said that he decided to retire after “much prayer” and 33 years of service, all in Dallas. He had been in charge of the police department for more than six years. His last day on the job is October 22.
“It’s time to go,” Brown said. “That’s a long time to be somewhere.”
“Police chiefs in this city and in this country have a shelf life,” continued Brown, stating that the average time for a police chief to serve in one city is three years. He lasted more than twice as long. “You shouldn’t want to overstay your welcome.”
The chief was inspired to become a police officer in Dallas, he said, by a desire to bring change to his Oak Cliff neighborhood, which had been deteriorating due to drug problems. Brown went to attend college in Austin, but dropped out early in order to return to Dallas and join the force. “I came here to serve, in any capacity that the department chose to assign me to,” the chief said Thursday. “I really thought that being a public servant was a high calling.”
Brown ended up having a great impact on the entire city. “I felt like I’ve accomplished the goal of serving,” he said.
“He was a steady hand during a difficult time,” said Dallas resident Michael Swaldi. “He’ll be sorely missed.”
At a press conference after last week’s announcement, Mayor Mike Rawlings praised Brown as the longest-serving police chief in DPD history, and for achieving the city’s largest crime reduction during his six years in charge of the department. According to the mayor, Brown cut down on deadly force by issuing 1,000 body cameras to his officers. He had also made great strides in community policing.
The retirement announcement comes two months after the downtown police shootings that took the lives of four DPD officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer. There are still blue ribbons tied to the trees near the police headquarters, and signs expressing appreciation after the attack. But this tragic incident, Brown said, did not impact his retirement decision.
Something being said in the days following the attack, however, did make Brown feel uncomfortable — the notion that he was now untouchable. “The job of a police chief is to be challenged. The job of a public servant is to be criticized,” he said Thursday during his speech. “The idea of being untouchable has not felt right to me.”
Still, many people across North Texas and the nation were impressed by how Brown handled the downtown Dallas ambush in July. So, they were caught off guard when he said that it was time for him to leave. “It’s good timing,” said Sara Mokuria from Mothers Against Police Brutality. “He’s now leaving a hero versus a villain.”
Assistant Chief David Pughes will assume the role of interim police chief after Brown’s departure. The attention will then shift to finding a new person to head up the force. “I’m sure they’ll get another good leader,” said Dallas resident Louise Tarrant. “I have that much faith in our police department.”
Meanwhile, Brown played coy when it came to his plans for the future. “I have been receiving quite a few opportunities,” said the chief with a smile, noting that he is now weighing those options with his family. But even when pressed multiple times for further details, Brown’s only response was, “That’s nobody’s business but me and my baby.”