DALLAS — Dallas Police Chief David Brown said Thursday he’s retiring because “it’s time to go,” but he wasn’t ready to say what he’ll do next.
Brown became the face of a city reeling from tragedy after a sniper killed five law enforcement officers in downtown Dallas as a July 7 protest against police brutality was ending. He spoke publicly for the first time at a press conference about his decision to end his 33 years with the department and more than six years as chief on October 22.
After the sniper attack and the department’s use of a bomb-carrying robot to kill the shooter, Micah Johnson, Brown was lauded nationally for his handling of the situation. Brown has pushed to keep information that authorities have gathered about Johnson and what happened the night of the shooting from getting out until their investigations are complete.
He said Thursday that he expects the Police Department to soon wrap up its portion of the investigation into whether the use of force was justified and give the findings to the district attorney’s office.
Brown said the praise he received and resulting sentiments that he was above criticism began to feel “distasteful.”
“I started hearing whispers after July 7 of me being untouchable, of me being powerful now since I had national notoriety. And it felt self-serving. The notoriety feels self-serving,” he said. “The idea of being untouchable has not felt right to me.”
Last week, when Brown’s retirement was first announced, Mayor Mike Rawlings and City Manager A.C. Gonzalez said they were not surprised because they had been talking with Brown about his desire to possibly retire for several months. Brown said that description of his decision-making was “inaccurate.”
“It was a quick decision, not a long, lingering one,” he said Thursday. “Really as a police chief, you want to quit every day. … The thing that gets you to come back is that serving so much outweighs anything negative that happens.”
He said he has received several offers since announcing his retirement and has been “weighing those options.” He declined to discuss them in detail, including whether his next venture would involve the private sector. But he said he hopes to still be part of the conversation that has started nationally over promoting community policing and recruiting inner-city residents to serve as police officers in their communities.
Despite recent praise, Brown’s tenure as chief has been marked by tumultuous relationships with police unions as he clashed with union leaders and others over how to deal with a surge in violent crime earlier this year that reversed a decade-long decrease in killings. Several unions called for his replacement or resignation earlier this year before the sniper attack.
An email and phone message left with a media relations person for the Dallas Police Association, the city’s largest police union, was not immediately returned Thursday. Brown said Thursday that he doesn’t think the department has a problem with low morale.
Brown’s time as the department’s leader has included other tragic incidents that affected him personally. In 2010, a few weeks after being sworn in as chief, Brown’s son was killed in a shootout with police after killing a civilian and a police officer. And earlier in Brown’s career, his partner was killed in the line of duty.
Brown said his experiences have led him to realize how lonely dealing with loss can be. While he hopes to step back from the department once he leaves, he said he will continue to support the families of the officers killed in July.