Dallas Police Chief David Brown announced his retirement Thursday.
Brown will step down from his role as top cop Oct. 22, his 56th birthday. He became chief in 2010.
“Serving the citizens of Dallas in this noble profession has been both a true honor and a humbling experience,” Brown said in a written statement. He has worked for the Dallas Police Department for 33 years.
First Assistant Chief David Pughes has been named interim police chief. City leaders will conduct a national search for Brown’s permanent replacement.
Pughes, 49, has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, a master’s degree in human relations and business. He joined the department in 1990.
Brown gained national attention after a lone gunman ambushed police officers as a downtown protest was ending July 7. Five police officers were killed and nine others were injured.
“Let’s always remember the fallen officers including the five officers on July 7, 2016, and the brave men and women of the Dallas Police Department for their sacrifices to keep Dallas safe,” Brown said in his retirement announcement. “I know the people of Dallas will never forget the ultimate sacrifice they made on the streets of our city that awful night.”
Brown called his decision to retire “difficult” and comes months after all four police groups called for new leadership in the Police Department.
Before Brown was promoted to chief in 2010, he served as former Chief David Kunkle’s top deputy for five years.
He was appointed by former City Manager Mary Suhm.
“He’s been a servant leader for this community, which he loves and which he’s done right by,” Suhm said. “He’s done Dallas proud, and I am pleased and grateful for those years of service because I know they weren’t easy.”
During his first weeks as Dallas’ top cop, Brown’s mentally ill 27-year-old son, David Jr., killed a Lancaster cop and a bystander, and then was killed by officers. It was Father’s Day.
Suhm said she and Brown spoke often during those days, when outsiders believed his would be a short-lived tenure. Suhm said Thursday she never doubted he would withstand the ordeal.
“His faith and his belief system got him through it,’ she said. “He’s a strong person too. That helped. But it was a tough time. A really tough time.’
Brown grew up in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas and has often touted his hometown pride. He recently told a group of teenagers at a police event that he’s “straight outta Oak Cliff.”
He has helped bridge the gap between Dallas officers and the city’s black community.
He has seen both sides of the divide. His brother was killed by drug dealers in Phoenix, and his former patrol partner was killed in the line of duty.
Brown has often pointed to a defining moment in his career. Dallas hasn’t seen the sort of riots seen in other cities after police shootings, though one started brewing in 2012 near Dixon Circle in south Dallas after a Dallas police officer killed an unarmed man.
The chief quickly released details of the incident and changed the department’s foot chase policy after the shooting. The officer killed the man after they got into a fight following a chase.
Brown has also implemented mandatory yearly de-escalation training for all patrol officers, and his top commanders and police managers have undergone racial bias training.
After the downtown ambush, President Barack Obama praised the Police Department, saying it is an example to other agencies because it has “drastically reduced complaints about police misconduct.”
Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates said she talked to Brown on Thursday morning about something unrelated, and that he said nothing about retirement.
Gates said City Manager A.C. Gonzalez told her about his departure about two minutes before his statement was posted to Twitter.
But Gates said she wasn’t surprised by the announcement.
“I was expecting it within the next two years, and I am sure he’s physically exhausted,” Gates said. “It’s a loss to Dallas, but we understand this is his choice, and we’re grateful for his service to the city of Dallas and especially the leadership he showed in July, when the city was under attack.”