Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall is in the national spotlight after police officer Amber Guyger tragically shot and killed her neighbor, Botham Jean, when she mistook his home for her own. Some people are questioning why Guyger’s name wasn’t released quickly to the public, while others are praising the police department for bringing in the Texas Rangers and investigating the case thoroughly. Here is what you need to know about Renee Hall and her background.
1. ‘Right Now There Are More Questions Than Answers,’ Hall Said in a Press Conference about Botham Jean’s Shooting
Hall has been front and center in the national spotlight since the horrific shooting of Botham Jean took place. Authorities say that Guyger is suspected of entering Jean’s home Thursday night after finishing a shift and shooting and killing Jean in his home, mistaking his apartment for her own. In a news conference on Friday, Hall told the community: “Right now there are more questions than we have answers.” She said she had already spoken to Jean’s sister and expressed condolences on behalf of the department.
The officer was finished with her shift and had returned home, while still in uniform. After she shot Jean, she called dispatch to report what had happened.
It wasn’t clear if Guyger was in custody on Friday, the Associated Press noted. Hall said she didn’t know the officer’s location on Friday, and did not release the officer’s name right away. On Friday afternoon, authorities said they were seeking a manslaughter warrant against Guyger. But on Saturday, the Associated Press reported that the Texas Rangers were investigating and the exact warrant and charges had not yet been decided.
At the time of publication, the police had not officially named Guyger as the officer who was involved in the shooting, but she was named by The Dallas Morning News.
2. Hall Became Dallas’s First Female Police Chief after Working with the Detroit Police for 18 Years
Hall had worked with the Detroit Police Department for more than 18 years before joining the Dallas Police Department, The Undefeated reported.
She is Dallas’s first female police chief in the department’s 136-year history, and joined in September 2017. Her salary is $225,000 a year. She replaced David Brown, who left and became a contributor with ABC News.
One of her plans when joining the Dallas PD was to create a citizens advisory board. Community members serve six month to one year terms and share crime and community issues with people in the police department.
“What’s important is that they’re able to hold that particular command staff accountable for those issues,” she told The Undefeated. “When they say that there’s a high volume of speeders or hand-to-hand drug trafficking, or whatever issue is in that particular community, then they’re meeting every month or biweekly with that command staff along with the tenants, police officers who are responsible for that area, and they’re saying, ‘You’re not addressing this issue’ or ‘We’re being really successful in this area, let’s duplicate that process.'”
Hall has a master’s in security administration and intelligence analysis from the University of Detroit Mercy, and a bachelor’s in criminal justice from Grambling State University.
3. Hall’s Father, a Detroit Police Officer, Was Murdered When She Was Six Months Old
Hall is no stranger to tragedy. Her father was a Detroit police officer. He was only 27 when he was murdered while on a prostitution and gambling case, The Undefeated reported. Because of the tragedy, Hall’s mother wasn’t happy when she decided to join law enforcement too. But she eventually warmed up to the idea.
Hall said: “She realized that it was a calling and she embraced it. Right now, she’s just truly, truly supportive of everything that I want to do and she’s proud of where I stand today, and so I’m excited.”
Hall said she hadn’t originally wanted to be a police officer, Texas Monthly reported. She originally wanted to be a lawyer and a Supreme Court justice. But while she was in graduate school, she met the Detroit police chief and he saw something in her that indicated she’d be a good police officer. After much encouragement, she took that route.
When she first joined the Dallas Police Department, she had to slim down the staff. This included doing what many referred to as “demoting” two other officers who were finalists for the police chief position. She told Texas Monthly that she never actually demoted them.
“I didn’t demote anyone. This department had to be leaner. We had nine assistant chiefs and fifteen deputy chiefs. … The executive level is not where you need the larger numbers. You need the larger numbers directly serving the public. We wanted community engagement… (Now) we’re much more accountable. We’re responding more quickly to complaints and to the city manager and assistant city managers.”
4. Regarding Police Brutality, Hall Once Said: ‘We Can’t Police the Community Unless We First Police Ourselves’
When talking to Texas Monthly about concerns regarding police brutality, she said that the police need to own what they do wrong.
She said: “We owe this community, and communities across the country, trust and legitimacy in what we do. We have to talk about the fact that there have been actions by police officers that have challenged the relationship between the police and the community. We have to train differently, and we have to ensure that when we use force, it is the level of force necessary. We can’t police the community unless we can first police ourselves.”
She said she wants to support her officers completely and unwaveringly when they do the right thing, but “the second they step out of line” and violate the rights of citizens, “then they will face the same level of scrutiny that anyone else would.”
5. Hall Once Slapped an Ex-Boyfriend After He Cheated on Her & Tried to Stop Her from Leaving
During the hiring process for police chief, it was revealed that Hall had once been involved in a domestic violence incident, The Dallas News reported. She disclosed that in 2010, she had slapped an ex-boyfriend just before she left him, because he had cheated on her. She said her slap was in response to the man grabbing her arm to stop her from leaving. She slapped him and then left, and that was the end of the situation.
“I’m not proud of the way that was handled,” she said. “I’ve grown.”
No one was arrested and the police were not involved.
Overall, Hall seems very concerned about both connecting with the community and helping the people that serve on the force. She is often sharing photos on social media that show her out in the community, meeting with people and getting their input.
At the same time, she also tries her best to help the people she works with, such as helping their 911 dispatch have a place to decompress after stressful calls.
On a lighter note, when Hall first joined the police department, Hall was asked if she would still support the Detroit Lions, NBC DFW reported. She said she’d wear a Cowboys hat on Sundays, except when the Cowboys played the Lions.