DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The seven candidates vying to be the new police chief in Dallas will wrap up interviews today, this after fielding questions from the public last night.
Three of the candidates already work for the Dallas Police Department and would be internal hires. The other four candidates hail from states other than Texas and all say he or she has what it takes to lead the city’s law enforcement.
The seven finalists came together at Dallas City Hall for a meet and greet Tuesday evening, fielding questions from local law enforcement, police union leaders, community groups and citizens.
City Manager T.C. Broadnax says he’s more than happy to have input from the people who met with the candidates, ultimately the decision is his. Broadnax and his executive staff are meeting with the candidates behind closed doors today.
The seven candidates meeting with Broadnax’s staff today are Deputy Chief Rick Watson, Deputy Chief Malik Aziz and Assistant Chief Gary Tittle – all currently with DPD. And from beyond Texas: Los Angeles Assistant Police Chief Michel Moore, Montgomery County Maryland Deputy Chief Luther Reynolds, Detroit Deputy Chief Renee Hall and Seattle Deputy Chief Carmen Best.
During the public event last night the candidates spent hours answering questions and making their pitches. They spoke about how it’s important to listen to the needs of fellow officers and about what it will take to lead DPD through its challenges.
Deputy Chief Reynolds said one of his goals would be, “Making the men and women in the police department proud of what they do and proud of their organization.”
Assistant Chief Moore spoke of stepping in with officers who endured the deadly ambush attack in downtown Dallas last year. “The rank and file are looking for leadership, and the rank and file is demoralized,” he said.
Deputy Chief Best said she realizes if she gets the job she’ll have to hit the ground running — but it isn’t something she hasn’t had to do before. “Every police agency across the country is dealing with some of the same issues — hiring, staffing, morale, recruiting [and] diversity.”
Deputy Chief Hall spoke of her successes as a department leader and said that it’s documented, “… on my record and it’s proven.”
At the Tuesday meet and greet, the three internal candidates each talked about what makes them right for the job. They said they have a perspective that the out-of state candidates don’t. They said they know the challenges, the positives and negatives, and know where the focus needs to be for the future.
The responses were varied when each of the three local candidates were asked what they think it will take to lead the city in public safety. Deputy Chief Watson said, “The biggest challenge we have, and that’s no secret, and it’s the manpower.”
Deputy Chief Aziz said his focus would be on his fellow officers. “I care more about officers as people than as some type of resource.”
Assistant Chief Tittle listed the areas where he would put his energy. “Transparency, efficiency, morale, hiring, and of course we can’t be police officers without fighting crime, right?”
The top job at DPD pays about $200K and while City Manager Broadnax said there’s no timetable for making the hire, he would like to have someone in place by the end of August or early September.
“The manager has a challenge on his hands,” said Gary Griffith, president of Safer Dallas. “We all gave him our feedback. We were very candid with him. He took it all, and now it’s in his hands.”
“I was personally encouraged by this level of transparency and by the opportunity for the community to have a voice,” added Rev. Michael Waters, co-chair of Faith Forward Dallas.
“It’s going to be a tough decision,” said Patti Fink, president of the Dallas Gay & Lesbian Alliance, “and I do believe our next police chief of Dallas will be in this group.”