I finally had the opportunity to meet Dallas’ new Police Chief, Renee Hall. She started her job as Dallas’ top cop in September, and I patiently waited for my chance to see her in person. Like many of you, I am very excited and proud to have an African American woman at the helm of our Police Department. Chief Hall comes to us from Detroit, where she excelled during her 18 years on the force there, and rose to the level of Deputy Chief.
I talked with her this week at an event at Dallas City Hall. We have some things in common. We are both members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., we are both daughters of Policemen, and we both want to bring healing to the wounded relationship between some sectors of the African American community and the Police.
Chief Hall’s speech that day was music to my ears. She addressed my biggest concerns. She admitted that policing in America has its roots in slavery, and that there is a dire need for healing with the African American community. She admitted that there are some bad cops, and the good cops must report the bad cops to their supervisors. Chief Hall also indicated that as a woman, she is a nurturer. Because of this, she is creating an atmosphere that allows Police officers to admit that they are experiencing the stress and trauma that accompanies their demanding job — without ridicule. Finally, she said that the mentally ill do not belong in jail. This statement acknowledges the reality that a large portion of Police work is mental health related, and it should not be.
Why am I sharing all of this? Chief Hall wants the community to partner with her to make Dallas better. The Park will be an excellent partner. God has positioned us to be change makers in Dallas. I understand that our church already has a strong track record of cooperative events with the police. Let’s do more! And, you may not know this, but six months ago, I sponsored a citywide conversation on the treatment of black women and the police. I want to do more!
Since meeting Chief Hall, I have been contacted by her office. I will keep you posted on where we go from here.
Dr. Sheron C. Patterson