It’s difficult to imagine a more difficult challenge than running a police force during the worst massacre of law enforcement officers since 9/11 — all against the backdrop of intense protest and ideological scrutiny. No one can do it perfectly — indeed, it’s difficult to even imagine what perfection would look like under these circumstances — but it’s hard to conceive of a more effective public voice than Dallas Police Chief David Brown. At a time when the loudest voices are seeking to increase conflict and often capitalize on tragedy, he’s charted a different course entirely. He’s a reformer who’s responded to the shootings from a position of credibility with many liberals and conservatives.
Writing in the Washington Post, Radley Balko has comprehensively outlined Chief Brown’s reforms, including his measures to reduce the use of deadly force, increase transparency and accountability, and pull back from using traffic citations as a revenue source rather than a safety measure. Until last year, his reforms correlated with a decrease in violent crime. Last year, however, homicides ticked upwards, and this year the increase has continued. While more data is needed, if anything Chief Brown had moved too far towards police reform when the attack happened.
Since the attack, he’s done four key things that have helped defuse tensions. First, he’s helped squelch a budding controversy regarding his use of a robot-delivered bomb to end the standoff with Micah Johnson by clearly and plainly laying out the facts. In short, with the shooter hidden behind a brick corner, the only way to take a shot was to expose officers to danger, negotiations were proving fruitless (he was “laughing” and “singing”), and he was concerned that Johnson would charge the officers to take out a few more. Here’s Chief Brown explaining it to Jake Tapper:
Second, he’s pointedly refused to be drawn into the gun control policy debate, recognizing that his role is to execute the laws, not write the laws:
Third, I appreciate his approach to protesters — moving past the artificial narrative of cops versus community and challenging them to join and serve:
Theres no where in america for these mobs of uncivilized brutes send them all back to where they came from
All Black Lives Matter wants is for there to be no enforcement of laws they break and for the police to risk their lives for THEM when they are threatened. Is that asking too much?