Dallas Chief Brown tackles questions and controversy

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on July 7, 2010 at 6:41 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 7 at 9:35 PM

DALLAS — Dallas police Chief David Brown returned to work on Wednesday, addressing his critics and the controversy surrounding his son's shooting death on Father's Day.

Brown received a standing ovation as he made his first public appearance, delivering a speech to the North Texas Crime Commission.

From the shooting itself, in which David Brown Jr. killed a Lancaster police officer and another man ... to questions over the police escort at the funeral procession for the chief's son ... and the use of an on-duty officer for babysitting service ... Chief Brown didn't shy away from talking about any of it.

He said he knew when he became Dallas' police chief there would be difficult times. "But I don't think anyone could have anticipated this type of tragedy committed by my son," Brown said.

Nor could they have foreseen the firestorm of controversy some members of his command staff created when they called for motorcycle officers to escort the funeral procession of his son.

Brown said he is hoping an independent investigation will determine whether there was a traffic problem when the extra officers were summoned.

"If that's proved to be the case that there was a public safety issue, and then the other idea of at what point was there relief and then what point could you have called it off or whatever," Brown said.

The chief said he was unaware of what was happening around him during the days following his son's death. "The whole two weeks have been a blur to me," he said.

Chief Brown also responded to concerns about why police Sgt. Tanga Hampton was babysitting his young daughter on Father's Day after the shooting happened. Sgt. Hampton was on-duty at the time.

"If I had been aware, I wouldn't have wanted the support, but there was such an outpouring of support from officers," Brown said. "I don't begrudge Sgt. Hampton wanting to help us out."

Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm said she is still trying to get answers, and if she has to, she will go back and fix any problems.

"I don't think that's appropriate in this situation, and so we'll correct these time sheets to reflect vacation time, or whatever the person wants," Suhm said.

Brown said members of his command staff were just trying to be supportive, but made decisions with their heart — not their heads.

The chief hit the streets after Wednesday's breakfast, answering calls with his officers. Brown said he hopes to reduce crime by 8 to 10 percent this year, and the core of his plan is community-based policing.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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