Chief Hall resigns: Firsts black female DPD chief prepares to step down

Chief Hall resigns
:Dallas Police Chief Ulysha Reneé Hall – Official photo

 

By ROBYN H. JIMENEZ

The Dallas Examiner

 

Dallas Police Chief Ulysha Reneé Hall has officially resigned her position, according to Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax. She submitted her letter of resignation to Broadnax Tuesday. Shortly after he accepted it, he released an announcement to media.

Hall, who began serving as the head of the Dallas Police Department Sept. 5, 2017, is the first woman and first Black female in the position.

In her letter, she stated she was grateful for the opportunity to serve Dallas. She noted the department’s recent progress in community policing and changes in police performance under her leadership. Though she admitted her time at the helm had not been easy.

“These past three years have been saturated with a series of unimaginable events that individually and collectively have never happened in the City of Dallas. I am proud that this department has not only coped with an unthinkable series of events, but we have also managed to implement critical reforms that were clearly needed …”

“Over the last few months, I have received a number of inquiries about future career opportunities … I must keep my next career step confidential,” Hall wrote in her letter, with the reassurance that she will continue in her “true calling which is law enforcement.”

Hall’s letter stated that her last day would be Nov. 10. However, Broadnax said that he spoke with Hall and asked her to stay until the end of the year and she agreed to do so.

“That will enable us to complete the short-term goals of the R.E.A.L. Change initiative,” Broadnax stated, referring to an initiative that he and Hall created.

R.E.A.L. is an acronym for responsible, equitable, accountable and legitimate efforts to build and maintain a more perfect union among all of Dallas.

“I am extremely grateful to Chief Hall for extending her time in Dallas,” he continued. “This year has been tumultuous and uncertain. A few more months of her leadership are key for several projects and for a seamless transition within the police department.”

Broadnax expressed an appreciation for Hall’s service and dedication, as well as the reforms that she has implemented.

“I believe Chief Hall has succeeded in placing DPD on a path of true 21st Century policing, and our next chief must have that same stout commitment to excellence,” he stated.

He went on to say the chief would assist him in developing a search criterion for the new chief. He will announce the criteria once it is finalized.

Though not directly opposed to Hall assisting, some community leader and citizens feel that the city should look more to the community for input.

“The community must play a substantial role in determining who will next lead the Dallas Police Department,” insisted LaPrea Pierce, a member of Texas Organizing Project. “This means that the city manager and duly elected city council have an obligation to create meaningful opportunities for our input, not the meaningless political theater that we experienced during the budget town halls. It’s critical that the next chief is willing to share a vision with the community that grasps how decades of over-policing in Dallas has led to the over-incarceration of people of color and is willing to imagine a new and inspired future about what policing can look like.”

Hall’s resignation comes after months of demands for her to step down as a result of incidents that took place during police brutality protests May 30 and May 31, and a year or so of disapproval of spikes in the rate of violent crime under her watch.

One of the most vocal critics in Dallas City Hall regarding Hall’s performance may be Mayor Eric Johnson.

With concerns about the growing crime rate in 2019, Johnson requested the city manager and police chief write a comprehensive plan to reduce violent crime – citing a steep incline in aggravated assaults and robberies and the highest homicide rate since 2007.

“The violence we saw in our city in 2019 was clearly unacceptable, and it simply made no sense to me that we didn’t have a data-driven, evidence-based, written plan to deal with this problem,” Johnson said. “It also made no sense to me that nobody I asked – not the police chief, not the city manager – had any idea what was driving our crime surge in Dallas – a surge that no other comparable, major city in Texas or in the United States experienced during this same period.”

After the plan was written and released, he expressed disappointment in it, calling it a start and saying it was not aggressive enough.

Johnson also questioned the city manager and police chief over the handling of the May protests, calling a Dallas City Council special meeting June 5. Over 200 citizens signed up to call in to discuss their concerns and complaints about the Dallas Police Department.

Callers complained about peaceful protesters being shot with “less-than-lethal” bullets and teargas, the use of excessive force by law enforcement, and unlawful mass arrests during peaceful demonstrations. One marcher lost an eye, while others suffered from large, deep bruises. As a result, many called for Hall to resign or be fired.

“Chief Hall has demonstrated this week that she does not have the ability to take a stand to mend the relationships that have previously been broken in Dallas, between the DPD and the community,” expressed caller Kedra Flowers. “She does not have the tools to mend the damage that was here before her, and further, she is creating additional damage by the decisions, statements and overall tone that which she is dealing with an already hurting community.”

Many callers were frustrated by what they considered to be Hall’s unapologetic stance while defending police actions.

“On June 2, Police Chief Renee Hall publicly defended their position, tactics and actions in regard to peaceful protesters,” caller Justin Boyd cited. “My question for the mayor, the city manager, city council and the police chief, is, ‘Can Dallas offer nothing better?’

“We want you all to denounce these tactics used on June 1 by the Dallas Police Department under the command of Police Chief Renee Hall.”

Along with protests, citizens and civil rights groups made demands for change, including better transparency and defunding the police – using the funds to do jobs that police may not be equip for, such as handling mental health calls. During the special meeting, Broadnax revealed the department’s R.E.A.L. plan, with policies such as Duty to Intervene, Warning before Shooting and changing the Roll Call Training Bulletin to “restate the ban on chokeholds.”

Some citizens and community leaders complained that the changes were not what they asked for and not enough real change.

Hall seemed to ignore the criticisms rather than address them.

“We have also managed to implement critical reforms that were clearly needed for the Dallas Police Department to meet our 21st Century policing goals,” she wrote in her resignation.

Hours after her resignation was approved, the department released “Dallas Police Department Improvements and Reforms,” a list of Hall’s achievement September 2017 through September 2020. At the top of the list was the “Reduction in Crime and Prevention” category.

“When you review Chief Hall’s Dallas record, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe the impact she’s had here,” Broadnax asserted in a press release. “While Dallas, like cities nationwide, is struggling with violent crime, our overall crime rate is down, and she created long-term tools and partnerships that will help keep Dallas safe in the future. Additionally, she fought for change in processes, rules and protocols within DPD that successfully put us on the path to best in class 21st Century Policing.”

Jon Fortune, assistant city manager of Public Safety, expressed disappointment in her leaving but was grateful for her service in the same release.

“I am hopeful she will continue with the same grit and resolve to get things done, improving residents’ safety and changing the current image many have about policing,” Fortune stated.

Johnson also thanked Hall for her service in a prepared statement in response to her letter, but said he was not surprised she was planning to leave.

“I had not spoken to the chief about her decision, but I was not terribly surprised by it considering the recent public statements of my City Council colleagues,” he wrote. “I know that people who commit themselves to careers as police officers face immense challenges and must be willing to make tremendous sacrifices. We demand much from them and especially from our police leaders – and rightfully so because the stakes are incredibly high.

There were some Dallas City Council members that approved of the job Hall has done.

“In my opinion, when the history book is written about Chief Reneé Hall’s service in Dallas, she will be remembered as an extraordinary police chief who delivered on her promises for reform in the department,” Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold, District 4, noted. “She has accomplished concrete changes on the rules and protocols for officers.

“Those changes have helped us leapfrog our way past others in pursuit of true 21st Century policing. Chief Hall built new roads to all communities, and there are many of us who hate to see her leave, but we understand. I am especially saddened, however, for the little girls I have seen look at Chief Hall in uniform and realize that someday they might be able to be ‘The Chief.’”

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