“There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city,” David Brown told the assembled reporters just hours after the Dallas 7th ambush.
The city was still reeling from the worst attack on police in America since 9/11, and David Brown, as Dallas Police Chief was in the middle of it all.
Growing up, Brown and other kids in his South Dallas neighborhood steered clear of cops, but after college, he returned a cop, hoping to make a difference.
Violence was no stranger. His first ten years, a gunman killed his partner. Drug dealers murdered his brother. All the while, Brown climbed the ranks, becoming Chief in 2010.
But seven weeks into the job, his adult son was gunned down after he killed a Lancaster officer and a civilian. It didn’t help Brown’s already frosty relationship with many officers, who believed him more concerned about City Hall than looking out for them.
As Chief, Brown championed community policing, getting officers out with citizens, easing tensions.
It worked... until July 7th.
Dallas officers were confronted with a suspect who said, he wanted to kill white people, "especially white officers.” To end it all, a bomb attached to a police robot was sent in to where the gunman had barricaded himself and set off.
“The suspect is deceased,” Brown later announced, and despite some criticism about the use of a bomb, he told reporters, “I’d do it again to save our officers lives.”
Frustrated, Brown took the opportunity to give voice to the nation’s frustrated, embattled blue a voice. “We’re asking cops to do too much in this country, not enough mental health funding. Let the cops handle it, not enough drug addiction funding. Let’s give it to the cops. Here in Dallas, we got a loose dog problem. Let’s have the cops chase loose dogs," Brown said.
He urged police critics to join the department. “We’re hiring. Get off that protest line and put an application in. And we’ll put you in your neighborhood," he said.
Many heeded that call… public support did pick up.
And during a public appearance in the days afterward, even David Brown took notice, “We’re very comfortable with not hearing thank you from citizens especially who need us the most. You’re used to it. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! So today feels like a different day then the day before this tragedy."
But the weighty issues separating officers from their Chief, though muted by the tragedy, never completely disappeared. They still believed him more concerned with pleasing city leaders than looking out for them.
Within weeks, David Brown resigned, wrote a bestseller and took a network job as a law enforcement analyst.
To this day, the rift between the former chief and his officers over his tenure remains a chasm.