DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A wave of change is hitting law enforcement agencies across North Texas.
With Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall’s announcement Tuesday that she plans to step down at the end of the year, the area’s three largest cities — Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington — are now all looking for new police chiefs.
Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus and Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson announced their retirements from their respective departments earlier this year.
At least five other cities – Plano, Frisco, Grand Prairie, Rowlett and Rockwall – have hired new chiefs within the last year.
“It’s a tough position. You’re never off work. It’s who you are,” said Jennifer Fadden, president of Executive Recruitment for Strategic Government Resources, a Keller-based search firm hired by the city of Fort Worth to help find its next chief.
Fadden believes the recent exodus of police leadership is due, in part, to exhaustion over the demands of a job that’s only getting harder.
“We’re in a uniquely difficult time with the pandemic and a lot of communities are seeing racial unrest,” she said.
Hall began working for the city of Dallas in September of 2017, almost exactly a year after her predecessor, Chief David Brown, announced he was leaving.
She was one of seven finalists who met with local community groups and members of the public during the interview process.
Fadden believes the search for a chief should incorporate community involvement from the very beginning. Her firm is currently surveying Fort Worth residents on what qualities they want in a police chief.
“The next series of chief of police are going to have to be visionaries, committed to transparency,” said Dr. Alex Del Carmen, associate dean of Criminology at Tarleton State University.
Del Carmen, who provides state-mandated training to every police chief in Texas, expects to see a strong pool of candidates committed to making changes. They’ll need to be able to address the recent challenges in policing.
“COVID and George Floyd have changed everything,” he said.
He said the killing of Floyd, in particular, has changed public sentiment on policing. Connecting with the community, he said, will be key. And so will the ability to maintain order.
Del Carman said city leaders will need to find a balance that works.
“The stakes are very high. They can’t afford to fail,” he said.