In the aftermath of the deadly police shooting in Dallas, many are offering praise for Police Chief David Brown for the way he has handled the chaotic situation.
“Our profession is hurting,” Brown said this morning. “Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.”
David Brown has been with the Dallas Police Department since 1983, being promoted to police chief in April 2010. Those who have worked with him have said he is a tough but good boss, and he has a reputation for being transparent with the media and for being quick to discipline bad cops.
Here’s everything you need to know about Police Chief David Brown.
1. He Is Married To a Former Dallas Police Sergeant
Brown has been married to former Dallas police sergeant Cedonia Brown since 1996. She retired from the department when her husband was promoted to chief, and she now works for the Dallas water department, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Brown was previously married to a woman who he met while going to high school at South Oak Cliff.
He and his wife have a 10-year-old daughter, who Brown says he often watches Nickelodeon with. And though Brown is regularly praised for the fine work he does for Dallas, Texas, he says his daughter only sees him as her dad.
“She wants me to do some of the same things that I’ve been doing, which is basically spend time with her and play with her and be her father,” Brown said. “I’m not a big deal to her other than her daddy.”
2. His Son Killed a Police Officer in 2010 & Was Then Gunned Down in a Shootout
In 2010, David Brown’s 27-year-old son, David Brown Jr., shot and killed a 23-year-old man and a 37-year-old police officer in Lancester, Texas, according to ABC News.
Brown Jr. suffered from bipolar disorder, and the Dallas County medical examiner later said they found PCP in the man’s system. He had told his girlfriend that he thought his father was against him and that the whole world hated him. He also told his girlfriend he was hearing voices, and he had reportedly stopped taking his medication shortly before the shooting.
Brown Jr. died in a shootout with officers. Soon after, Brown Sr. visited the family of those his son had killed.
“He was sorry that his son had hurt so many people,” Lancaster Police Chief Keith Humphrey said. “He met with them as David Brown, not Chief Brown. He took that away. It was David Brown the person and David Brown the father.”
Those who work with Brown Sr. said he handled the situation admirably.
3. His Brother & His Partner Were Both Killed in Shootings
Losing his son was not even the only tragedy Brown has suffered during his time as a police officer.
In August 1988, when Brown was working in the physical evidence section in Dallas, he responded to a shooting in Oak Cliff. The word was that a cop had been shot and was in grave condition. When he arrived, he saw a pair of glasses on the ground and recognized them as belonging to his former partner, Walter Williams.
Hours after the shooting, Williams died in the hospital. The 47-year-old was married with three kids.
“When things like that happen and you’re really close, you don’t believe it for the longest time,” Brown said. “I really relate to all of those in-the-line-of-duty deaths [on a] much more personal level…you lose a partner, you just never get over it.”
One of Brown’s classmates at the police academy told the Dallas Morning News that the death of Walter has stayed with Brown ever since.
Just three years after the death of his partner, Brown’s brother was killed in Phoenix by drug dealers. Brown says that now when he speaks to families of victims, he truly knows what they’re going through.
4. He Has Fired Several Violent Police Officers & Has Faced Criticism From Some of His Officers as a Result
David Brown has also been applauded for the way he handled an incident involving police officers assaulting a man and attempting to cover it up.
In September 2010, three officers were caught on video beating a motorcyclist named Andrew Collins, with one being accused of attempting a cover-up. Not only did Brown fire the officers, but he also released the footage to the public, as he is a believer in transparency.
A few months later, another officer was caught on video using pepper spray on a man who was constrained by handcuffs. This man was also fired. In both cases, Brown held press conferences and was as open as possible about the entire process.
5. He Encouraged the Use of Police Body Cameras & Has Been Heralded for His Reform Efforts
In another example of Brown’s attempt to make police as transparent as possible, last year, David Brown’s department put 200 police body cameras into use. He said at the time that he hoped to expand this number to at least 1,000 when the cameras become less expensive.
Brown decided that the first cameras purchased would be placed on officers who have previously been disciplined but who have not yet been fired, according to the Dallas Morning News.
“This is the most dramatic reform effort in policing in our country since the ’60s because of the controversies around these police-involved shootings,” Brown said.
He did say at the time, however, that he was worried that officers would be criticized for not turning on the cameras during tense situations.