Dallas police chief David Brown held a July 11 press briefing on the sniper shootings that killed five officers several days earlier.
He provided little in the way of new information about the event itself. But his comments on policing and gun laws in the United States are being widely circulated for their insight into the pressure that cops are under.
“Every societal failure, we put it on the cops to solve,” Brown said, before lamenting that police are left to solve problems that government fails to address:
Not enough mental health funding, let the cop handle it. Not enough drug addiction funding, let’s give it to the cops. Here in Dallas we have a loose dog problem. Let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools fail, give it to the cops. 70 percent of the African-American community is being raised by single women, let’s give it to the cops to solve as well. That’s too much to ask. Policing was never meant to solve all those problems. I just ask other parts of our democracy along with the free press to help us.
Brown also criticized open carry laws (link to audio), which allow gun owners to carry their weapons in plain sight, saying they make it harder for police forces to do their jobs. Texas just expanded its open carry policy this January.
It’s challenging when people have AR-15’s slung over and shootings occur and crime and they begin running, and we don’t know if they’re going to shoot or not. It’s been the presumption that a good guy with a gun is the best way to resolve some of these things. Well, we don’t know who the good guy is or the bad guy is if everybody starts shooting.
That much was evident as the shooting evolved on Thursday evening. After spotting a marcher at the rally carrying a rifle out in the open, police circulated images of him and called him a ”suspect” and “person of interest.” He later turned himself in and was cleared of any wrongdoing or potential association with the shootings.
Brown has been a victim of gun violence on multiple occasions. In 2010, just weeks after he assumed the role of police chief in Dallas, Brown’s mentally ill son shot and killed a police officer and another man, before being fatally shot. His brother and former partner were also killed by gunfire.