DALLAS (CBS11) – Renee Hall is following in her father’s law enforcement footsteps, but she relishes the fact she is a trailblazer at the Dallas Police Department, as the department’s first female police chief.
“You know it’s just exciting to be in a space where we’re selecting police chiefs on ability and not gender. So yes, I’m excited for other women in law enforcement, and to be that role model that they can aspire to sitting in this space eventually,” said Chief Hall.
During a one-on-one interview Tuesday, Chief Hall said she believes law enforcement is a calling.
At first, Hall said she wanted to be a lawyer.
But one of her professors in graduate school was Detroit’s police chief at the time, and Hall said he helped convince her to become a police officer and join the department.
Her father, Ulysses Hall, served in that same department, but was killed in the line of duty in 1971, when she was just six months old.
“I had some reservations, my mom had some reservations, relative to me joining the department, but when it feels right, if feels right,” said Chief Hall.
When asked if she has ever thought what her father would say had he realized she was a police officer, and now chief, Hall replied, “I do think about it. I believe he would be so proud. I feel like I’m finishing what he started in his life. He never got a chance to fulfill his dream in law enforcement. So somehow, God said I’ll allow your daughter to continue what you started, and that’s just how I feel.”
Chief Hall said that empowers her, and is a constant guide when making decisions about officers’ safety. “All of that is important to me as a leader of the organization because I do know what it feels like to grow-up without a parent after losing them to this profession.”
Hall rose through the ranks at Detroit PD, where she last served as a Deputy Chief.
She said she occasionally went out on the beat and even made arrests.
Will she do that as Chief here?
“That is the goal, that is truly the goal. I don’t believe we are ever removed from what we signed up to do. I think it’s truly my responsibility to lead from the front,” she said. “How can I ask officers to do what I’m not willing to do?”
But before she can go out on the beat and wear a uniform, she must be certified by the state and pass a test, which she says she is studying for.
Chief Hall said most of her time will be spent overseeing the department.
During the interview, she specified some of the changes she is strongly considering.
Hall said DPD has too many people on the command staff for the size of the department now.
There are 20 chiefs in a department with 3,051 officers.
Since October 1, 440 officers have left the department, mainly because of the Dallas Police and Fire pension crisis.
Chief Hall said, “The goal is to make it more to the size of the agency currently. So yeah, there will be some adjustments coming.”
When asked if the chiefs are aware of the potential changes, Hall said, “Well, one of the characteristics about me is that I’m very transparent. So I’ve met with the Assistant Chiefs and the Deputy Chiefs and they do know where I stand in that area.”
Hall said she told the chiefs it’s not personal, but what’s in the best interest of the department.
The department faces a violent crime rate that’s up 3 percent and longer response times from last year.
She said now studying where all of her officers are placed and where the crimes are being committed.
The chief says she faced similar issues in Detroit, and she said she wants to attract officers by giving them opportunities and a voice, not necessarily just a bigger paycheck. “If they truly wanted money, they would have joined Plano, Frisco initially and not the City of Dallas, so I think they need the overwhelming support I have, unwavering, and they need to know that, feel that, feel appreciated.”
Chief Hall said to give her three months to make changes at the department.
WATCH JACK FINK’S ENTIRE ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW WITH CHIEF HALL HERE