A crazed sniper hunted down and murdered five Dallas police officers last week. The city has been rattled by the heinous act of remorseless brutality. The one guiding light in the dreary gloom has been Dallas Police Chief David Brown. He has tried to unite the city, while educating many of the inconvenient truths that plague law enforcement in the strained relations between police and the public.
Brown said he has been “running on fumes” from providing grim details in press conference after press conference and consoling families after the deranged shooter killed five of his police officers and injured nine others on July 7. He has been “hugging officers whenever he could,” as well as speaking about his officers being underappreciated and underpaid. Throughout this reprehensible nightmare, Brown has been a welcome glimpse of strength, sympathy and grace.
He has been the face of compassion, humanity and resolve.
Throughout this harrowing ordeal, Brown has not been sucked into divisive politics.
When asked what advice would he give young black men, including those who have joined protests against police around the country, Brown said:
“Become a part of the solution. Serve your community. Don’t be a part of the problem. We’re hiring. Get out of that protest line and put an application in and we’ll put you in your neighborhood and we’ll help you resolve some of the problems you’re protesting about.”
He spoke of the mounting responsibilities and pressures placed on law enforcement:
“We’re asking cops to do too much in this country… Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, let the cop handle it. Not enough drug addiction funding, let’s give it to the cops. Here in Dallas we have a loose dog problem, let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools fail, give it to the cops. Seventy percent of the African American community is being raised by single women, let’s give it to the cops to solve that as well. That’s too much to ask. Policing was never meant to solve all those problems. And I just ask for other parts of our democracy along with the free press to help us. To help us and not put that burden all on law enforcement to resolve.”
Brown is a real person, who shows true emotion and loves superheroes. During Monday night’s candlelight vigil honoring the five Dallas police officers killed, Brown began his eulogy by quoting “The Adventures of Superman” series. ”Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look, it’s a train, it’s a plane…it’s Superman,” Brown said. In the eyes of the Dallas Police Chief, cops are superheroes just like Superman.
Mayor Mike Rawlings credited the Dallas PD with training in conflict de-escalation techniques “far before cities across America did it.”
“We are one of the premiere community policing cities in the country. And this year, we have the fewest police-officer-related shootings than any large city in America,” Rawlings said. “So we are working hard to improve, and there’s always room for improvement. But we are best in class.”
His grace under the distressing scenario has not been unnoticed. Not only are people enamored with the David Brown the police chief, but they want him to be the next President of the United States.
Besides comforting an entire Texan metropolis after the recent tragedy, Brown has an unbelievable life story of overcoming adversity and heartache. In high school, Brown was voted most intellectual and most likely to succeed. After college, Brown came back to his poor hometown in south Dallas to discover that the crack cocaine epidemic was destroying families in the early 1980s.
“I began thinking about law enforcement then,” he told the Dallas Observer. “I wanted to do something rather than just complain about what was happening.” In 1983, Brown earned his Dallas police badge.
Maybe Brown was so steadfast following the Dallas police shootings because he is no stranger to tragedy. In 1988, his partner Officer Walter Williams was shot and killed while on-duty. Williams was a 47-year-old father of three.
“When things like that happen and you’re really close, you don’t believe it for the longest time,” Brown told The Dallas Morning News in 2010. “I really relate to all of those in-the-line-of-duty deaths (on a) much more personal level.”
In 1991, Brown’s younger brother, Kelvin, was killed by drug dealers in the Phoenix area.
“I can’t deny that’s a part of who I am,” Brown told the Morning News. “The families of victims, I know what they go through.”
Seven weeks after Brown was sworn in as the Dallas Police Chief, a gunman killed an officer and a young father. That cop killer was David Brown’s son. His 27-year-old son, by the same name, was high on PCP, marijuana and alcohol when he shot dead a bystander and a cop. Police were forced to shoot and kill Brown’s son on Father’s Day in 2010.
“My family has not only lost a son, but a fellow police officer and a private citizen lost their lives at the hands of our son,” Brown said at the time. “That hurts so deeply I cannot adequately express the sadness I feel inside my heart.”
Brown bravely went to the homes of the victims to apologize to the families. “First of all, I’m sorry,” Brown said. “My son was not raised this way.”
Now Brown must find the strength again to not only battle criminals, but an entire nation that has a deep mistrust of police officers.
“We’re hurting. Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken,” Brown said. “There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is that this: This must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.”