Monday, November 16, 2009

I vote for Brown to replace Chief Kunkle

Like most folks around here, I was shocked to read of Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle's announcement of his retirement next April. It had always seemed to me that the two most prominent members of the city's staff -- the city manager and the police chief -- were pressured out of his office; they didn't leave of their own accord.

I have always felt that former City Manager Ted Benavides' major legacy to the city is that he appointed Kunkle as chief, an appointment that was much criticized in the media at the time because the chief was a former Dallas police officer who was the chief in neighboring Arlington at the time of his appointment. Critics claimed Mr. Benavides should have cast a wider geographical net for the next chief and Kunkle's appointment was going to be more of the same (his predecessor being the much-maligned Terrell Bolton, who rose from the department's ranks and whom Mr. Benavides both appointed and fired). History has proved Mr. Benavides was correct in the Kunkle appointment (boy, was he ever!) and the critics were wrong.

Chief Kunkle's announcement does current City Manager a huge favor. She now has a half year to find a successor. I'm hoping she will do the same thing Mr. Benavides did: Conduct a nationwide search for a new chief and then appoint someone close to home. I am referring to first assistant chief David Brown (pictured above).

I met Chief Brown when I was the executive director of the Northeast Chamber of Commerce (now the East Dallas chamber) and he was named chief of the Northeast Dallas Police substation. We worked tirelessly to implement the same kind of volunteer program that was successful in reducing crime residential in neighborhoods to crime-plagued shopping centers, particularly along the Skillman Road corridor. Chief Brown, however, took crime fighting in this neighborhood to an even higher level, conducting major undercover operations in neighborhood apartment complexes that housed drug laboratories, knowing that drugs was the root cause of most of the criminal activity.

His success in the Northeast, I'm guessing, fueled his rapid ascent to his current position, the No. 2 man in the Dallas Police Department. At one point, Ms. Suhm even appointed Chief Brown as an interim assistant city manager. I'm thinking if he's qualified to be the assistant city manager overseeing the police department, he's certainly qualified to be the city's next police chief. Sure, there might be someone equally as qualified in Sacramento, Phoenix, Charlotte, Indianapolis, whereever, but no one will know the city's problems and the police department as well as Brown. No one will be able to hit the ground running as quickly as Brown. No one will provide as seamless a transition as Brown.

Sure, the local media might complain, but, as in the case of Kunkle, they will learn that Brown's appointment will be the right decision.

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