Over most of the past decade, the Beacon in this space has at this time of year honored an American or a group of Americans as a Profile in Courage as a standard bearer for the rest of us. This doesn’t mean in my research for these stories that I have discovered who was the bravest of all Americans over the year. I am sure that no human being can measure that. However, we have settled every year on profiling what is truly an extraordinary situation of courage among Americans.
On this past July 7, just three after a patriotic July 4 and within days of two controversial officer-involved shootings of African Americans in Minnesota and Louisiana, the Dallas police force was protecting a rally in reaction to the shootings when they were ambushed by a military-trained sniper who wounded 12 police officers, five fatally.
At the outset of the shooting, the first priority of the officers – before they did anything else – was to protect the protesters of the previous shootings.
Eventually the sniper was killed by a bomb brought to the site by a mobile police bomb.
For the ten Dallas Police David Brown, the worst police killing in Dallas history was more than just another personal challenge. At a press conference on July 11, Brown told a room filled with reporters in his situation as an African-American chief presiding over a crime scene created by an African-American army veteran of the Afghan War, "Through the grace of God I can stand here and do my job."
It was not the first time that Brown had reached that point.
In 2010, just weeks after Brown had been appointed police chief, his son named after him – 27-year-old David Brown, Jr. – with what was found later to be found as PCP in his system – shot and killed a police officer and another man on Father’s Day. David Brown Jr. was then shot and killed himself by police officers.
“My family has not only lost a son, but a fellow police officer and a private citizen lost their lives at the hands of our son,” Brown managed to tell his new department personnel the next day. “That hurts so deeply I cannot adequately express the sadness I feel in my heart.”
At that time, there was speculation in Dallas newspapers that Brown would have to be so personally overcome by the personal tragedy that he would soon resign just after taking office. But instead he lost his thoughts in devotion to his job, eventually he built a police force that has one of the best community service records in the nation.
From an existing record of having some one of the worst civilian shooting records in the nation prior to 2010, Browns transformed raised his force via increased training to reducing officer-related shootings by 45 percent in 2015, also creating the smallest murder rate in Dallas since records were stared to be kept in 1930. In the process, he cut local red tape to fire 70 Dallas officers who had in panic or in anger shot or otherwise attacked unarmed suspects, and created lethal danger training for his police every two months. The result of all Brown’s training and education programs was that before the ambush against the Dallas police officers on July 7, the Dallas police had recorded only one officer related shooting through 2015, which wounded a man.
So here is a profile of courage – a Dallas Police Department under the now retired and long serving Chief David Brown that has proven that a professional and trained and courageous approach to police administration. One that drastically reduces crime in what was regarded as the most dangerous urban places
Chris Sharp- Commentary
Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon