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Dallas Police Chief Resigns Amid Fallout Over Department's Handling Of Protests

Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall resigned Tuesday after criticism of her department's handling of recent protests in the city. Hall is seen here at police headquarters in Dallas in 2017.
LM Otero
Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall resigned Tuesday after criticism of her department's handling of recent protests in the city. Hall is seen here at police headquarters in Dallas in 2017.

Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall, the first Black woman to head the department, has announced that she is stepping down from the post. Her resignation follows criticism over the department's response to protests against racism and police violence.

"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," Hall wrote in a letter sent to the Dallas city manageron Tuesday. "I am proud that this department has not only coped with an unthinkable series of events, but we also managed to implement critical reforms that were clearly needed."

Hall is the latest in a string of police chiefs in cities such as Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Atlanta; Louisville, Ky.; and Rochester, N.Y., who have left or have been pushed out of their posts amid national protests this summer over how law enforcement engages with communities of color.

T.C. Broadnax, the city manager, released a statement thanking Hall for her service and acknowledging that she originally planned for her last day at the department to be Nov. 10. However, he asked her to stay on through the end of the year and she agreed.

"This year has been tumultuous and uncertain," Broadnax wrote. "A few more months of her leadership are key for several projects and for a seamless transition within the police department."

Having Hall stay on for several more weeks, he added, gives city officials more time to develop search criteria for a new chief, who "must have that same stout commitment to excellence."

Hall has come under particular scrutiny over how her department handled demonstrations sparked by the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, member station KERA reports.

In particular, the Dallas Police Department's response during the early days of the demonstrations, between May 29 and June 1, was the subject of such immense scrutiny that it culminated in a more than 80-page After-Action Report.

During that period, police used chemical deterrents and nonlethal ammunition on protesters and also conducted a "mass arrest event" on June 1 in which 674 people were taken into custody after protesters marched onto the city's Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

In a memorandum at the beginning of the report, which was released in mid-August, Hall states the document is "an honest assessment and review of errors, miscalculations and shortcomings uncovered in this extensive review."

Hall has been the top cop in Dallas since 2017.

She arrived on the heels of the retirement of Chief David Brown, who led the department through a daunting period that saw the fatal shooting of five Dallas police officers in July 2016. Those killings occurred during a protest against police shootings of Black men.

While Hall has been praised for implementing some changes in the department, some observers said her ability to implement widespread reforms has been limited.

"She raised expectations that she ultimately couldn't fulfill," John Fullinwider, a co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, told The Dallas Morning News. "That's because the chief is not the only power center in the department."

Fullinwider said the powerful Dallas Police Association, the city's largest police union, prevents significant changes.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said he was not surprised by Hall's decision to step down but called her a trailblazer for the city.

"We demand much from them and especially from our police leaders — and rightfully so because the stakes are incredibly high," Johnson said, according to member station KERA.

"On top of those demands, Chief Hall had the burden and the distinction of being the first woman — a woman of color, no less — to serve as the police chief in Dallas. That was not lost on me. I wish her the best in her career and in her life moving forward."

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Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.