New questions about chief's use of on-duty Dallas cops

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on July 6, 2010 at 10:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 7 at 3:48 PM

EXCLUSIVE

DALLAS — There is fresh controversy surrounding the actions of the Dallas Police Department following the death of Chief David Brown's son.

News 8 and The Dallas Morning News have confirmed that an on-duty police officer acted as a babysitter for Brown while he was dealing with his son's death.

Wednesday morning, Brown made his first public appearance since that tragic Father's Day in which his son, David Brown Jr., killed a Lancaster police officer and an innocent bystander.

Greeted with a standing ovation, the chief met with the North Texas Crime Commission at 7:30 a.m. Brown was introduced at the event by City Manager Mary Suhm, who said he has her full support and that of the city council and mayor.

At the event, Brown spoke publicly for the first time about the tragedy. He said he is still trying to understand and piece together why it happened and said he has reached out to both families and has committed to them his undying support.

He said it has been extremely trying for him and his family, but faith and prayer have been helping him through.

The chief also addressed recent controversies about the fact some of his command staff ordered motorcycle officers to help with the funeral procession for his son and that at least one police officer was paid to babysit his four-year-old daughter.

Since Brown Jr.'s death, there was first controversy over a police escort at the funeral of the chief's son... and now this.

Sgt. Tanga Hampton spent 21-and-a-half hours at the chief's home. The Dallas Police Department issued this statement.

"When a member of our department loses an immediate family member or has suffered a catastrophic injury, it has not been uncommon for our department to assign an officer to help the family."

But those actions are usually reserved for officers who have died in the line of duty. In this case, the chief's son killed an officer and an innocent man.

News 8 attempted to ask Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm about the extracurricular assignment, but she declined to speak on camera.

Suhm did talk to The Dallas Morning News. She said Chief Brown told her "that nothing like that happened. He says he had a friend who was off that was with him and that's it. He said he didn't have anybody out there on special assignment."

The city manager said Chief Brown most likely didn't realize Sgt. Hampton was on-duty. 

"If Sgt. Hampton was on special assignment, then we'll put in vacation time," she said.

Suhm did not return calls from News 8 to clarify the issue. It's estimated that the city spent about $900 for the veteran sergeant to babysit.

"It's been done at funerals before when officers are killed, but I don't think it's particularly appropriate for this situation," Suhm told the News.

Brown said he understands the anger officers are feeling, but said the department needs to move forward.

"What I believe here is that though this diversity, our department has been made stronger," he said while talking with the commission. "We're enduring and we're being strengthened by this tragic circumstance."

The chief then went on to outline his vision for dropping crime in Dallas, stating his hopes that the city will have at least an eight percent drop in crime this years.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com 

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