In a surprise move, Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall announced Wednesday that she is dismantling the police department’s vice unit and reassigning its 20 officers.
She also announced that she is conducting “review and overhaul of operations” of the vice unit after an evaluation process discovered “significant irregularities.”
Sources tell WFAA that issues in the vice unit were discovered prior to Hall’s taking over as chief. The issues were being investigated by the department’s public integrity unit.
“At the moment, there are more questions than answers, and that’s why we have to take a deeper dive into this unit’s protocols,” she said. “’Concurrently, we have developed a plan to decentralize enforcement of the crimes that have been handled by vice.”
As part of the move, Hall transferred the deputy chief who oversees both narcotics and vice to a patrol station. She also transferred the rest of the vice unit’s supervision.
The move is the first big major shakeup by Hall since she took command of the department in early September. Hall – who came to Dallas from Detroit -- is expected to reorganize the department in the coming weeks.
While the review is ongoing, Hall said she plans to temporarily shift responsibility for investigating crimes such as prostitution and gambling to the city’s seven patrols stations. It is unclear how the desperately understaffed patrol stations will handle the additional responsibilities given the high call loads and long response times.
Hall promised that the department would continue to provide the same level of “vice enforcement.”
“Officers in the substations know exactly where crime is occurring so we’re excited to see how this is going to play out,” she said.
Undercover operations will be handled by narcotics and other units, she said.
The chief said she is reassigning the members of the vice unit to five other areas including the family violence and robbery units.
The chief announced that she plans to bring in an outside group for to assist in the examination of the vice unit.
“Clearly, to me, there are inconsistencies in vice’s operations, and that needs to be addressed,” she said. “This division must exhibit the highest level of integrity and accountability because of the types of crime it enforces.”
Hall said it was unclear when the review would be complete.
The chief sent out a chief’s update announcing that she was transferring Assistant Chief Paul Stokes from the patrol bureau to the strategic deployment bureau. Assistant Chief Gary Tittle is being transferred from the strategic deployment bureau to the patrol bureau.