Dallas police chief David Brown is the “face of the nation’s shock” after the sniper’s killing of five of the city’s officers, the New York Times reports. At news conferences, he sorted through a jumble of reports, some of them wrong, as he narrated the standoff between his officers and the gunman. He offered simple, emotional words: “We’re hurting,” on Friday. His appearances may have evoked a more personal grief. Just weeks after Brown became chief in 2010, his own son fatally shot a police officer and another man before being killed in a confrontation with the police.
Since taking over the Dallas department, one of the nation’s largest, Brown, 55, has earned a national reputation as a progressive leader whose priority is improving relations and reducing distrust between the police department and minority residents. His efforts began long before 2014, when the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City made such initiatives a necessity for many police chiefs. Brown “has been doing this before he had to,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. “He recognized what happened, what is going on in the country.” Brown, who is African American and a fourth-generation Dallas native, joined the police force in 1983.