Turmoil at the top: Why are so many police chiefs leaving office in 2020?

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DALLAS, TX – The dominoes continue to fall, when it comes to top cops in major U.S. cities retiring in 2020. 

Most recently, Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall announced her own plans to leave the office. 

A statement from City Manager T.C. Broadnax said she resigned her post on Tuesday, September 8th, and it will be effective at the end of the year.

He praised the police chief, writing: 

“When you review Chief Hall’s Dallas record, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe the impact she’s had here. While Dallas, like cities nationwide, is struggling with violent crime, our overall crime rate is down, and Chief Hall created long-term tools and partnerships that will help keep Dallas safe in the future.” 

Halls list of achievements is long.  

She is the first black female to lead her department. Under her watch, a press release from the department says crime in the city has trended downward. 

It reportedly dropped 5.7% in 2017, nearly 6% in 2018 and, most recently, nearly 4% in 2020. 

Civilians applauded her service in the comment section under the Facebook post announcing her retirement. 

One woman wrote: 

“The city wants a puppet. Thank you Chief Hall for your service. You will be appreciated much more in another place. God bless and keep you safe.” 

Another man posted: 

“Sorry to hear about this decision. We wish you would reconsider. We support you, the Dallas Police Department, and other police departments throughout the country for your support and service. We thank you ALL!” 

However, her resignation followed criticism, specifically, of her response to recent protests. 

The Texas Tribune reported that six City Council members were displeased with the DPD response to anti-police brutality protests in Dallas after the death of Minnesota man George Floyd back in May. 

Hall certainly is not the only American police chief to take heat in what has been a trying time for police departments nationwide. 

In Texas alone, the lead officers in Fort Worth and Arlington have stepped down this year. 

Around the rest of the country several other large city departments have empty offices to fill too. 

TV station KENS reports that chiefs in Rochester, Seattle, Atlanta, Portland and Louisville have also resigned or retired this year following either protests or controversial incidents involving officers in their departments. 

The article quotes the Chief of Police for Cedar Hill Independent School District in Texas. James Hawthorne spent 28 years with the Arlington, Texas Police Department before taking the school district job.

Hawthorne said: 

“I think we’ve lost some of our brightest leaders and some of our brightest minds that the police industry has to offer because of the climate that we’re in, the political dynamics, and that’s unfortunate.

Sitting in the top seat, I hate to say you’re expected to perform miracles because that’s overstating it a little, but you’re expected to end police brutality, protect vulnerable people, and create the future of policing. It’s very challenging, to say the least.” 

Former Fort Worth, Texas police chief Jeff Halstead also spoke with the media outlet. He said: 

“Just changing one person in a position of a profession that’s been around since the founding of the country, it’s not going to change some of the root issues.” 

Halstead was the top cop from 2009 to 2015, and led the city through heavily publicized and criticized situations that drew national attention. 

One of those situations involved a federal lawsuit against the city and Halstead, when Black officers claimed their civil rights were violated. 

Even so, Halstead told KENS that what chiefs are dealing with now is unlike anything before. He said: 

“It has grown in a scale of crisis handling that has not been measured since the Los Angeles riots. And, keep in mind, the L.A. riots were back in 1992 with no social media. It is overwhelming when you get in a crisis event like this because it overtakes every minute while you’re awake, without a doubt.” 

He believes this time of turmoil involving the retirement and replacement of the highest-ranking officers will not end in the near future. Still, Halstead said that he is optimistic that this will emerge as an overall opportunity for policing. 

“There’s a wealth of talent out there that just has to be tapped into. While it may seem like dark times, I think you’ll see the police profession rise to its finest hours and leaders who are the dynamic people who can carry an agency and community through these types of crisis will emerge.” 

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Hall is not the first Police Chief to retire this week in the wake of violent protests. Here is a story Law Enforcement Today brought you on the retirement of the Rochester, NY Police Chief.

ROCHESTER, NY- The chief and deputy chief of the Rochester police department have both announced their retirements from the police force.

According to reports, Police Chief La’Ron Singletary was appointed chief back in April 2019 and leaves the department with 22 years of service.

Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito, who has been overseeing the department’s operations bureau leaves the department with 34 years of service. He said:

“It has also been my honor to serve this community through these many years; a community I was born and raised in and deeply love.”

Allegedly, Mayor Lovely Warren has been questioning Singletary’s leadership following the March 30th death of Daniel Prude.

Warren claims that Singletary told her Prude died from a drug overdose and that he did not inform her of the officers’ actions until August.

In a news release, Singletary said that his actions have been mischaracterized. He said:

“As a man of integrity, I will not sit idle by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character. The events over the past week are an attempt to destroy my character and integrity. The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Great Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for.”

In his own, separate announcement, Morabito said that he was honored to serve on the police force and that he never regretted that decision. During a scheduled briefing, Mayor Warren announced the news to the Rochester City Council:

“As you all know, this has been very challenging times for the city of Rochester and the chief was not asked to give his resignation because I do believe that he’s given you his very best and with some information that was brought to light today that I had not previously seen before and that the chief has felt that his career and integrity has been challenged.”

She added:

“He has dedicated 20 years to this city and the citizens of Rochester and feels that the events that have happened were not done in a way that, you know, could’ve been handled differently, but he didn’t, in any way, try to cover this up.”

Warren said that it is unclear if the retirements are effective immediately. She said:

“If that retirement is effective immediately, then we will have to find that interim chief and whoever that interim chief would be would step up and lead the department at this time. I do know that is going to be difficult at this time.”

Singletary appeared briefly at a community gathering a few days prior to his retirement announcement where allegedly he was confronted by some protesters who kept calling him, “the enemy.” When he announced his retirement he said:

“Today, after 20 years of dedicated service to the Rochester Police Department and the Rochester community, I announce my retirement from the Rochester Police Department. For the past two decades, I have served this community with honor, pride, and the highest integrity.”

He added:

“The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts and is not what I stand for.”

He said:

“I would like to thank the men and women of the Rochester Police Department as well as the Rochester Community for allowing me the honor of serving as your Chief and fulfilling a lifelong dream. I look forward to continuing to serve our community in my next chapter.”

ABC News reported that Singletary’s retirement will be effective September 29th. According to City Council President Loretta Scott, there is no blueprint for how the city moves forward following the retirements of the command staff. She said:

“It was unexpected. I didn’t know that was going to happen. I don’t know if blindside is the right word, but yeah, right. This was supposed to be a briefing to talk about how the police handled the protests.”

In addition to Singletary and Morabito, Commander Fabian Rivera also announced his retirement. Deputy Chief Mark Simmons and Commander Henry Favor each left the command staff to return to their previous ranks of lieutenant. 

 

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