Police Chief Kunkle’s Retirement a Loss for Dallas

Yesterday, Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle announced that he will be retiring in April, after serving as chief for six years.

This is a big loss for Dallas.  I was elected to the council not long after the chief started, and I’ve gotten to see firsthand how he’s transformed the department and changed Dallas residents’ perception of the DPD.

Chief Kunkle is loyal to his officers and the the DPD.  But he knows that first and foremost, he is responsible to the people of Dallas and has to answer to them.  So whenever the police made a mistake, he didn’t circle the wagons and make excuses; he immediately acknowledged the problem, apologized, and took specific steps to correct it. That accountability and willingness to accept responsibility has changed the way Dallas residents view our DPD.  He’s in touch with Dallas residents because he attends community meetings across the city.  He always answers questions directly without political BS or spin. There is greater confidence in our police department today than there was six years ago, and we can thank Chief Kunkle for that.

The chief also hasn’t been afraid to make tough calls, like prohibiting his officers from using dangerous choke holds and instituting a strict policy about police car chases.  Both were met with resistence from some officers, but again, he was focused on protecting the public, not winning a popularity contest.

Chief Kunkle will be a tough act to follow.  Crime’s gone down under his leadership and public confidence in the DPD has risen.  While I wish we could talk the chief into staying a few more years (and a few more years after that), I understand and respect his desire to begin a new chapter in his life.  I wish him and his family the very best and thank him for his outstanding service to our city.

Dallas Loses 2013 FOP Conference to Cincinnati

I got a call this afternoon from Dallas FOP president, Mike Walton. Dallas lost the 2013 FOP convention to Cincinnati, 800 to 1100 votes. We think one thing that may have tipped the vote in their favor was that FOP members in states near Ohio wanted to drive to their destination, and they have a larger voting bloc than down south.

I’m disappointed, but am so glad I had the opportunity to work with Mike, Fred, Dena, and everyone else who put so much time and energy into this effort. We’re very lucky to have these folks in our DPD.

Enjoy these pictures from our trip, and check out the videos of our presentation (below). Mike was on fire, and did a great job selling our city and hitting all the right notes.

Next time, I’m bringing the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. I kid you not.

Dallas Vies for 2013 Fraternal Order of Police Convention

I’ve spent the last few days in Long Beach, California, which is hosting the bi-annual convention of the Fraternal Order of the Police. The FOP is a national organization of law enforcement officials. Dallas’ FOP has been working for two years to bring the convention to our city in 2013, and the 3000+ FOP delegation will make the decision on Thursday. Dallas is competing against Cincinnati, Louisville, and Virginia Beach.

In January, I joined DPD officer and Dallas FOP executive board member, Fred Mears, and Dena Rambo of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, as we gave the national FOP officers a tour of Dallas’ police headquarters. Fred’s been working tirelessly to bring the convention to Dallas, which would be terrific for Dallas’ economy. I’ve been working with the Dallas FOP and the convention center to ensure we could bring the best deal possible to the table.

I was really impressed with the regional cooperation and statewide support Dallas received. Richardson, DART, Fort Worth and others have stepped up to help lure the FOP to Dallas. And the FOP lodges across Texas have been really working the delegates here at the convention, encouraging them to vote for Dallas.

On Monday, I met with Dena from the DCVB and DPD officer Mike Walton, president of the Dallas FOP. Mike has been working his butt off, campaigning every possible minute. We discussed our presentation for Wednesday (each city vying for the 2013 convention gives a ten minute presentation to the entire delegation).

On Tuesday, I spent the day at our convention hall booth with Dallas’ 20-member delegation. We were working hard to sell the delegates on Dallas. We had two main points. First, the entire delegation would be in just 3 downtown hotels, all close to the convention center (including the convention center hotel) and connected by light rail. This was a big selling point because the group is usually spread out across whatever city they’re in. This has been especially true in Long Beach, where some of us (the Texas delegation) are 10 miles from the convention center. Second, Dallas is economical. The three hotels have agreed to offer the prevailing federal per diem rate, which is $115 right now. None of the other cities could beat that.

Last night, Dena, Mike and I got together to prepare our presentation. We worked on it about 4 hours, and I think it paid off. Today, we made our presentation to the whole delegation (I’ll post the video shortly).

This has been such a great group to work with. I can’t say enough good things about the DPD officers I’ve gotten to know on this trip, and Dena from the DCVB could not be a better cheerleader for our city.

Tomorrow, the delegation will vote on the host city for 2013. I’ll give everyone an update on the results. Keep your fingers crossed.

(FYI — I didn’t spend any taxpayer funds on this trip; it was paid for by the FOP and out of my campaign funds.)

Juvenile Curfew

The council considered whether to renew the juvenile nighttime curfew, and whether to expand the curfew to include daytime hours (9am to 2pm) on weekdays.

The new law makes it illegal for children to be in public between the hours of 9am and 2pm on weekdays (there are several defenses: being accompanied by parent, school wasn’t in session, etc.). The purpose of the law is to punish truants with fines of up to $500. State law prevents schools from imposing fines or otherwise penalizing students until they have committed 10 offenses. Supporters argue that a daytime curfew will reduce juvenile crime.

While I understand the motivation of those supporting this ordinance, I cannot support a curfew that criminalizes children being in public places. I also cannot support an ordinance that will further burden our police when they are struggling to respond to serious 911 calls. Furthermore, because Dallas has dozens and dozens of private and public schools, all with their own calendars and holidays, imposing a juvenile daytime curfew will prove an administrative nightmare for police.

The daytime curfew is unnecessary. If the purpose is to get truants off the street, the police already have the authority to stop truants and taken them back to their schools.

I voted against the nighttime curfew (it passed 13-1). The council unanimously delayed the daytime curfew decision to May 13.

Police Catch East Dallas Carjacker

Deputy Chief Vince Golbeck sent along the good news this morning:

Officers responded to a carjacking at 4117 Abrams Rd last night at 9:00 pm on service #103196-W. Anticipating this may be the same suspect in the string of recent robberies, other officers headed to points near the freeway that head South. An Officer was at Mockingbird/Central when he observed the suspect driving the victim’s stolen vehicle. He followed him until other squads arrived.

After a brief vehicle and foot pursuit the suspect was apprehended. He was transported to the Central Investigative Unit where he was interviewed and admitted to several of the previous carjacking offenses. So far the suspect is being connected to the following offenses: 74459w, 74831w, 79525w, 85654w, 09-001621 (Desoto PD), and 88266w. The suspect has not admitted to the offense on Martel involving the children or the offense on Matilda but we strongly feel he was involved in those as well.

WE ARE NOT RELEASING NAME/PHOTO UNTIL ALL THE VICTIMS CAN VIEW A LINE UP. This could jeopardize the remaining cases.

We will release his name once the Detectives tell us all victims have been shown the line up.

Update on East Dallas Carjackings

Deputy Chief Vince Golbeck provided the following update on East Dallas carjackings late this afternoon:

I know there is a lot of concern regarding the recent individual robberies that have occurred in and/around your neighborhoods. This is an update to the bulletin I sent at 4:00 pm. I want to clarify some misinformation that is being distributed through private individuals’ email networks that I’ve received since so please share the following with them:

A carjacking incident involving a wf/35 occurred today approximately 1:25 p.m. in the 6300 block of Martel Avenue. There were no other robberies today in this area. The driver had her 7 y/o daughter and 9 y/o son in the vehicle when she was backing out of her driveway into the rear alley. She exited vehicle to move a trash container when the suspect approached her and was wearing an orange/yellow reflective work type vest over dark blue sweatshirt. Suspect had a toy chrome handgun that we recovered at the location after the complainant struggled with the suspect since he was driving away with her children in the vehicle. The suspect did allow the children to exit the vehicle. There were no injuries. Suspect fled in complainant’s vehicle – 2005 Green Ford Expedition. He matches the description of eight previous incidents since February 5th that have occurred in Central, Northeast, Southwest, and one possibly out of town. Several of the vehicles have been recovered in South Central Division.

There was information being distributed that there was another offense today and that it occurred at Stonewall Jackson Elementary and that is not the case. There were concerns of the elementary school being in lockdown but the principal can make that decision for student safety reasons, however, the incident did not occur near the school.

Further Suspect description is: Black Male, 35-50, 5’8″ – 6’2″, 160-180 pounds. Suspect may be unshaven with a little gray and have missing or gaps in teeth. Also please confirm any additional information with the Dallas Police Department before distribution and we’ll keep you posted on any updates.

We had added additional patrols in the neighborhoods, which will continue, and intel has been distributed Departmental wide.