Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday (April 2) that she has chosen former Dallas Police Chief David Brown as the city’s new police superintendent. It was the first time she picked a permanent occupant for the job since she was elected last year.
“In this time, in this moment, the Chicago Police Department — indeed our city— needs this humble leader,” said Lightfoot at a news conference. “A man of integrity whose mettle was forged in tragedy.”
If he looks familiar it’s because Brown led the Dallas Police Department in 2016 when Micah Xavier Johns ambushed and opened fire on police officers during what had been a peaceful protest against police violence, reportedly deliberately targeting cops. Five officers were killed, along with two civilians. Nine others were injured. Johns was killed in a standoff with police as he attempted to flee.
After the deadly incident, Brown was asked how the public could help and he replied they could become police officers. After that plea applications to the Dallas Police Academy shot up.
"I'm sensing that this is a symbol, a moment, for the country around policing — in that we can either rise and come together, or we can continue to be divided in our positions and not listen to one another," he told NPR in 2017, several months after his retirement from the DPD.
Lightfoot said Brown’s leadership in the face of crisis was what led her to choose him out of three finalists.
During his tenure, Brown, 59, was able to implement a community policing program, putting officers on foot in Dallas neighborhoods, according to the Dallas Morning News. Also, he publicly released use-of-force data and made changes to the department’s foot chase policy to reduce police shooting incidents.
Charlie Beck, the former Los Angeles police chief had stepped in during the interim to replace former Supt. Eddie Johnson, whom Lightfoot fired last year. Brown now steps into the permanent position to handle the double problem of Chicago’s still high violent crime rate and the spreading coronavirus crisis.
“As dark as some of those times have been, (it’s) also in those times that I have seen incredible resiliency, faith and the infinite goodness in people,” Brown said at the press conference announcing his appointment. “And I am confident the same characteristics are here in Chicago.”
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