Big Expectations, Big Challenges Face Dallas’ First Female Police Chief

With Renee Hall’s hiring, Dallas County’s three top law enforcement officials are all female.

By Jill AmentJuly 20, 2017 1:21 pm| ,

Dallas hasn’t had a full-time police chief since Chief David Brown stepped down in October. The city began its search for a new chief in April, and recently announced a historic choice. Ulysha Renee Hall, most recently a deputy police chief in Detroit, is the first female to lead the Dallas department.

Rebecca Lopez, senior crime and justice reporter for WFAA-TV in Dallas says Hall, who takes over as chief on Sept. 5, faces a police department in disarray. Challenges include problems with the city’s 911 call center, difficulty recruiting new officers and financial reverses for the Dallas public pension system. Lopez also says the police-chief search process was slower than ideal.

“I think it’s because we have a new city manager with less than a year experience in Dallas, and he needed time to get to know the landscape of what was happening here in this city,” Lopez says. “And then you throw in the pension fund, which is also a mess for the Dallas Police Department — a department that is completely demoralized.”

Lopez says the problems date back to Brown’s tenure.

“While David Brown did shine during the July 7 ambush and afterwards,” she says, “he has also been criticized for his heavy-handed approach to officers, his approach on fighting crime, and was on the verge of being fired just prior to July 7.”

Dallas officials stress the historic nature of Hall’s appointment as chief. She joins other women among Dallas County law enforcement’s leadership, including African-American District Attorney Faith Johnson and Latina Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Lopez says law enforcement leaders have reached out to Hall.

“I think [Hall] will fit in well here in Dallas,” Lopez says. “…She came across as a leader and someone who could take this department to a new level.”

Lopez says some in Dallas are concerned that Hall does not meet a requirement set out by the firm tasked with finding a new police chief. Hall has been a deputy police chief for three years but the requirement specifies seven years’ experience. Lopez says several internal candidates, with a track record of reducing crime in Dallas, have more experience than Hall does.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.