Some of you may know that I spent a number of years as a police reporter where I grew up, in Tyler,Texas, and as a crime writer and investigative reporter at The Houston Post (now defunct). I saw a lot — perhaps too much.
I have a son who is preparing to enter law enforcement as a career choice. I admire and respect him enormously because I know that he will always do the right thing, even when no one is looking, one of my father’s cardinal rules. With that in mind, I want to add a few comments as this somber weekend comes to an end in Dallas — even as police officers, EMS and Dallas Fire trucks race through downtown, responding to calls, to protect and serve.
I am so very proud of our Mayor, our Chief of Police, his command staff and the residents of Dallas.
I am a Houstonian, an Astros fan tried and true, but I could not be more proud of my adopted hometown.
I grew up in Tyler, Texas, a small city of about 95,000 east of Dallas. I returned there in the early 1990s to work for a local health system and to begin my business. I married well — way above myself — and I have had a great life. Better than I deserve. But tonight, it is all about Dallas — Big D — and those who serve us, and those who protect and serve.
Unlike Houston, Dallas has a city manager form of government. Not very responsive to the needs of the citizens but it is what it is. (In Houston, the Mayor runs the city, with ultimate accountability. But that, too, is another story for another day.)
In Dallas, our Mayor does not make much in terms of salary and his power is derived from his ability to coalesce/cajole public support for any initiative he wants to advance, not the executive authority as is the case in Houston. That said…
Dallas Mayor Rawlings made me proud on Thursday night and his reassuring leadership continued today, at a town hall meeting with Bishop T.D. Jakes at the legendary Potter’s House Church. Bishop Jakes is a marvelous religious leader but Mayor Rawlings, again, rose to the leadership occasion. Thank you Mr. Mayor.
Our Police Chief, David Brown, an African-American if that makes any difference, is a reformer. Under his leadership, there has been push back to his changes, but the Mayor and City Manager, who appoints the chief, stood behind him and for good reason. Crime is down, police shootings are down and the department, for the most part, is trusted. Do we have our bad actors? Yes. But Mr. Brown has worked hard to build a culture of respect for the law and for those he is charged with protecting and serving. His performance under the national spotlight has been calm, credible and reassuring.
His command staff, including Deputy Chief Malik Aziz, another African-American, has been stellar. Chief Aziz was poignant in his interview with CNN on Friday. Said the Deputy Chief:
“Days like yesterday, or the day before — they shouldn’t happen. But when they do, let’s be human beings. Let’s be honorable men and women and sit down at the table and say, ‘How can we not let this happen again?’ and be sincere in our hearts.”
Way to go Dallas.
Once before, 53 years ago, we had a terrible event here – a president was killed. It was a dark day. There was hateful rhetoric. This city struggled with that blight for years. But on Thursday night, no one in Dallas stood up to take a cheap political shot as was the case with our Lieutenant Governor or a Congressman from Tyler, Texas. No, Dallas stood tall. Our leaders did the right thing, they said the right things. And it was from their hearts They led with love for this city.
Tonight, on a Sunday evening, the City of Dallas is calm. We mourn the loss of our dedicated public servants. We grieve deeply for their families.
But, when we take pause, and think about the events that began at 8:58 PM on Thursday night, we enormous great comfort that our City’s leaders stepped up and did their jobs with great dignity and class.