Editorial: The Dallas Police Department must seek a chief willing to reform policing

Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall submitted a letter of resignation this week and at the end of the year will officially step down. Her tenure as the Dallas Police Department’s chief comes to a close months after widespread condemnation of her handling of the Black Lives Matter protests.

As Hall vacates the position, Dallas must look for a new police chief who can engage in community-based policing and initiate reform within the department. In the midst of a national civil rights movement, the Dallas Police Department needs a strong leader who is willing to make changes to the department.

While Hall’s letter of resignation makes no mention of BLM, we feel it is hardly a coincidence that the resignation came on the heels of an announcement by the Dallas County District Attorney's office stating it would be looking into the use of force by the Dallas Police Department during the protests.

In the weeks following the police killing of George Floyd, videos surfaced of Dallas police using what appears to be unnecessary force on peaceful protesters. An investigation by the Dallas Morning News found that police had used pepper ball launchers on assembled crowds.

Multiple city council members have spoken out against police procedure during the protests, and Hall herself admitted there were problems with tactics used by police in response to protesters.

It must also be noted that in 2018, one year after Hall took the position, Dallas Police officer Amber Guyger entered Botham Jean’s apartment and fatally shot him in his own home. While Hall bears limited personal responsibility for the killing, the incident reinforces the need for a police chief who can maintain a culture where this sort of thing won’t happen.

Hall’s time as police chief has been marred by violence, yet she did make positive changes in the department. Hall was instrumental in establishing a community-led police oversight committee and abolishing the 72-hour rule, which gave police officers a three-day grace period before an official interview or report after a shooting.

As Hall’s time draws to a close, the city of Dallas needs to find a new leader who can answer calls for reform while keeping the city safe. The next few years will be turbulent for police, both in Dallas and across the nation.

As a society, we are reevaluating the role police play. With Hall’s departure, it’s up to the next police chief to figure out what the future of policing looks like in Dallas. We urge the city of Dallas to keep this in mind while looking for a new candidate.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Spencer Brewer; Editor-in-Chief Shay Cohen; news editor Angelica Perez; Cecilia Lenzen, life and entertainment editor; sports editor Chris Amaya; David Silva Ramirez, life and entertainment reporter; and copy editor Andrew Walter.

opinion-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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