The Sweet Lies of Dallas

Some lies are hard to tell, because someone is going to demand proof. You cured cancer? Prove it. You captured a space alien? Where is he. But some lies are easy to tell, if one doesn’t feel a twinge of shame about lying, because they defy proof and exist only in our belief.  Following the tragedy of Micah Johnson’s murder of five Dallas cops, Police Chief David Brown spoke the words that gave the appearance that he and his force would rise above the petty outrage.

Sounding stern but frustrated, he used blunt words to urge people to reach out and support police, specifically challenging those who marched in protest of the recent slaying of black men by officers to help build a better society.

“Serve your community; don’t be a part of the problem,” he said. “We’re hiring. Get off of that protest line and put your application in.”

While others accused, castigated the protesters whom they blamed for fostering the hatred that produced killers, Brown offered an alternative.

“I’ve been black a long time,” Brown said in response to a reporter’s question about improving race relations in Dallas.

“It’s my normal to live in a society that’s had a long history of racial strife. We’re in a much better place than we were when I was a young man here, but we have much work to do, particularly in our profession. Leaders in my position need to put their careers on the line to make sure we do things right.”

Do things right. Isn’t that what we want to hear? We want so badly to hear people speak the words that appeal to our sensibilities that when they do, we gush over them. But they’re just words, and one Dallas cop isn’t doing much gushing.*

Officer Nick Novello, 62, who is a serving officer with 34 years on the beat in Dallas, accused his police chief David Brown of failing the public by being at the helm of a police team low on morale and over worked with insufficient pay.

He said the police chief was guilty of ‘grandstanding’ in his public appeal to hire more young black men to his force.

And he claimed that the Dallas Police Department had been plunged into an all time low with many disillusioned officers serving the public.

When an officer breaks ranks, it’s generally the kiss of death to his career. It’s not necessarily because the brass will can him, or put him on a desk deep in the bowels of some place where only misery can find its way, but because he gets the Serpico treatment. When he relies on another cop for backup, no one will be there. And the result can be death. It’s a lousy trade-off.

But at age 62, with 34 years on the job, Novello is old for a cop. His pension is vested, and he may be ready for greener pastures. That works for him and against him when he makes such allegations.

The president said last week that the department is an example to other agencies because it has “drastically reduced complaints about police misconduct.”

Brown has visited the White House twice to discuss police transparency. The department has released exhaustive data on all incidents involving police officers.

He has required officers to undergo de-escalation training and has even required his command staff to undergo racial bias training.

Sounds great, right? Sounds like all the solutions that the teary-eyed hand-wringers who believe passionately in simple solutions to complex problems could possibly want. And even the president says so. Would President Obama lie?

But Novello said large numbers of the black community in Dallas distrusted the police and had been wrongly arrested to help fulfill an arrest ‘quota’ laid down on officers.

He said: ‘If he wants them to sign up, he had better stop criminalizing them for things like having small amounts of marijuana.

‘Some officers fit people up by arresting them for being intoxicated when they refuse to show their IDs and that leads to a criminal record and difficulties in finding a job.

‘Officers are under pressure to reach targets. There has to be an end to the arrest and ticket quota that exists within the Dallas police department.

‘I am sick and tired of the public face of togetherness the chief puts on when he knows there’s a lot of bad feeling behind the scenes.’

Whether this is true is something that can’t be determined from the outside. A cop with 34 years on the force would know, however. But then, could he be trying to create a niche for himself as a police whistleblower, whether to write a book, get speaking gigs, make himself into an anti-cop hero and bootstrap that into his next career?

Or is Nick Novello really just sick and tired of the lies?

‘A lot of the black community are supportive of the police and that is wonderful, but a large number say police departments cannot police themselves.

‘Not only can’t we police ourselves, sometimes we go out of our way to protect the predator cop.

‘In my estimation the quota system is corrupt. You are telling the officer who has a great deal of power that he is required to exercise that and generate funds for the city. Arrests generate money.

‘As a beat cop, I see the computer, I see the calls holding, I see the inability to dispatch and deal with real time needs.

Some of these gripes might appear to pander to those who seek reasons to blame police, and that could well feed the belief that Novello’s statements are disingenuous. But then, he also focuses on concerns that would only appeal to cops, and run contrary to speculation that he’s crafting a less-than-forthright anti-cop persona.

‘We are vastly understaffed. Last month we lost 48-50 officers, which is unheard of.

‘One officer left to go drive a Coca-Cola truck. Another who was 43 years old retired after 14 years saying “I’m out, I’m out”. Morale is very low.’

He said several officers had resigned from the force after last Thursday’s murders.

Dallas, we’ve got a problem. The people aren’t happy. African Americans aren’t happy. The cops aren’t happy. And David Brown is putting on a dog and pony show to make himself look like a great racial humanitarian when it’s a big, dirty, nasty, ugly lie.

Wise people have suggested that we’re at a stage of fact-free emotionalism, where truth and truthiness no longer matter, and we will applaud the utterance of words that make us feel better without regard to reality. Whether the Dallas police department, not to mention others held up as paradigms of professionalism and goodness, is the animal reflected by David Brown’s holistic speeches, or just another bullshit cesspool hidden behind some grandstanding verbiage designed to appeal to those who attend political conventions is unknown.

But what Nick Novello reminds us is just because somebody spouts platitudes or simplistic solutions on the telly doesn’t make it true in the trenches. If Novello is legit, then Dallas is just as rotten as everywhere else, but its chief is smart and shameless enough to lie about it, knowing the public is too gullible and shallow to question his word.

*Please forgive the quotes with one sentence paragraphs. Apparently, the Daily Mail believes that every sentence should be a paragraph in itself, and that the rules of sound writing do not apply to it.

26 thoughts on “The Sweet Lies of Dallas

  1. Patrick Maupin

    Dallas certainly has a police compensation problem, at least compared to all the richer suburbs around it. IIRC, starting salaries in Richardson are over 20% higher, and it’s pretty normal for people to get hired and trained by Dallas and leave after a couple of years. It’s certainly believable that driving a Coca-Cola truck pays more; never mind the reduced stress.

    So Brown is completely sincere when he says he’s hiring. And getting more disenfranchised locals into the department has to be a good thing, so if that aligns with his agenda, he’s trying to head in the right direction. The muted response of the Dallas PD to the execution of five of their members also has to be counted as a positive, so obviously he’s not doing everything wrong.

    It’s hard to imagine that someone could get to Brown’s position without being sensitive to higher-ups demanding cost containment and a certain amount of incoming revenue. He’s walking a tightrope. Let’s hope he uses his newfound fame for good.

    1. SHG Post author

      Not sure you’ve done the math right. Salary is only part of the equation. How you’ve arrived at Brown’s sincerity at wanting to hire the “disenfranchised” bears no necessary connection to anything else.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        I don’t think salary is the full problem, by any means, and thought I said as much in the third paragraph. But a living wage is a great morale booster.

        Maybe there are quotas, and maybe they are his idea, because he has lazy-ass employees and he needs some metric to grasp at. But if he succeeds in recruiting enough people who want to be guardians rather than warriors, who will openly flaunt the quotas because that’s not why they were hired, things will change, either with or without him, and if he’s as smart as he’s usually portrayed, then either that was the plan all along, or he’ll at least figure out how to stay on top of that.

  2. Dragoness Eclectic

    I hope you have a better source than the “Daily Mail”. According to a great many British sources I have read and/or corresponded with, the “Daily Mail” is a notoriously inaccurate, agenda-driven tabloid. They’ve been caught just making interviews up before. A second source would make this account more believable.

  3. John Barleycorn

    I have never understood why a cop with a deluxe dental plan would want to save a few bucks at the barber?

    Speaking of which, I bet cops with shaved skulls would be taken more seriously if skull tattooing and transition eyeglass  lenses were covered in their contracts without a copay.

    Too bad David and Nick don’t have regularly scheduled sleepovers. If they did, the less fortunate of the most underprivlidged neighborhoods in Dallas would certainly get more visits from the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

    FYI: A one sentence paragraph with unity and coherence is, and has always been, acceptable. Appearance and length have nothing to do with the “unit”.

    Unity has always been popular across styles. However, coherence is steadly becoming all the rage these days as well.
    This may have something to do with people wanting their children to be able to  channel their inner Cogent Kojak on command when confronted by an authority figure. But it really has to do with their own fears about not knowing what to say to a Telly Savalas in the afterlife, especially if he happens to be carrying a trident.

    As with policing the limits of coherence within a unit should obviously be more malleable, especially when one is atempting to germinate unifying parallels which are otherwise not readily seen, considered unimportant, or you need some quick cash.

    But rest assured you are not going, not even for disorderly if your units are unifying. But if you choose to push the limits of “coherence” or mix styles on the way to the promise land your journey will almost certainly come with jail time.

    And that’s no lie.

    But now, direct from the afterlife studios, Casey Kasem brings you America’s Top 40 Cop Bar hits this week and topping the charts is Tell Me Lies:

    1. Fairly Worn

      Barleycorn on coherence. A formidable reference book, would read like crossword answers made into sentences.

    2. Wrongway

      “But it really has to do with their own fears about not knowing what to say to a Telly Savalas in the afterlife, especially if he happens to be carrying a trident.”

      Please tell me he’s dressed as a mermaid.. “Who Loves Ya Baby ?”.. now that would be some scary shit..

      Also, … Harrumph!!

  4. Jonathan

    Is it a lie if you believe it? It’s entirely possible Brown believes his own hype. It could also be a half-truth. Changing strategies is showing improvements in things like excessive force complaints but also dampening police morale. Dallas may be somewhat less rotten than everywhere else and getting less rotten. Or not.

      1. Jonathan Levy

        I probably should have taken another minute to be more clear. (Or not, and I’m about to get another smackdown.) The point was that it isn’t necessarily either “right things” or a cesspool. More likely Brown is doing some right things and some wrong things. And the Department is neither a paragon nor a cesspool. The evidence does seems to show a decrease in use of force, police shottings and citizen complaints. I agree folks shouldn’t be so quick to gush over people saying the things they want to hear. But maybe one shouldn’t be so quick to label them liars either.

        1. SHG Post author

          Novello labels him a liar. Assuming it’s true, why would you assume he’s “so quick” to do so? And if you have to equivocate in every sentence, chances are pretty good you’ve got nothing worth saying and someone will notice.

  5. Natalie

    The sentiment expressed by the veteran cop is fairly representative of the way the DPD force feels about Brown’s administration and management according to local news and op-eds over the course of Brown’s tenure. This is also consistent with what I have heard anecdotally from those within and around the DPD.

    I know you don’t like links, so I won’t go there, but there have been a number of “controversies” among the rank-and-file vs. Chief Brown and it’s well-known in the DFW area.

    Is it due to the police bucking a push for more accountability and transparency or Brown’s failings or something else? Who knows?

    1. SHG Post author

      I don’t know either, obviously, but if this (whatever “this” means) is true, and Brown is spewing nonsense for the cameras, a little skepticism is in order.

      1. Greg Prickett

        Brown is all about Brown, and the rank and file have disliked him since his cop-killer son got a police funeral escort.

        There are deep issues at play in Dallas, to the point that the Governor offered to send in State Troopers to help.

        And Novello’s not lying. There have been informal quotas for at least the last 30-40 years. If you don’t have enough “activity” of certain types, then your performance evaluation suffers. So at the end of the month, you would see a lot more chicken-legged tickets, arrests, and so on.

        This isn’t the first time Novello’s pointed out problems at DPD. D Magazine ran an article in June 2007 where he exposed a ring of officers who were making up violations and writing tickets on stuff that had never happened, in order to boost their stats. Grits for Breakfast reported that two of the officers were fired and two suspended in 2008.

        So Novello’s likely to be telling the truth here. He has nothing to gain by lying, and it fits what I know of the department.

        1. Patrick Maupin

          “disliked him since his cop-killer son got a police funeral escort.”

          Would he have done that for the family (no, not the cop-killer, sorry, he’s already dead) of any cop-killer?

  6. Wrongway

    DPD.. 11 shot 5 dead.. Black guy shot them all..
    where’s the crackdown on the black folks ?
    there hasn’t been one that I’ve heard about. (so far) And that’s a good thing right?

    he’s trying to change things, & people, especially the ‘old guard’, hate change of any kind when it directly touches them.
    maybe he is wrong in his approach. but I applaud his attempt.
    how many city/county/state/federal officials aren’t so full of shit their eyes are brown ??
    what do you want instead stop & frisk ??

    there is a problem & its captured on cameras across the country daily, just as it was in Dallas on that night. and so far, things seemed to have calmed down in Dallas maybe in part due to the DPD’s reaction to that crisis..

    but in Baton Rouge, & their reaction to the protesters, not so much..

    1. SHG Post author

      Yes, the DPD didn’t rush out after the shooting and “crackdown” on black folks, while the eyes of a nation were on them and they were busy pitching how they don’t do that sort of stuff anymore. Problem solved? Or optics for idiots?

      1. Patrick Maupin

        Were the optics in Baton Rouge better because they were more honest, or worse because the cops didn’t even try to pretend?

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