Home News Dallas police chief dismantles vice unit, reassigns 20 officers over ‘serious issues’

Dallas police chief dismantles vice unit, reassigns 20 officers over ‘serious issues’

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Naheed Rajwani
The Dallas Morning News

In her first major move as Dallas police chief, U. Renee Hall on Thursday temporarily dismantled the department’s vice unit after discovering “serious issues” and reassigned its 20 officers.

The chief has not publicly detailed what led to her decision to overhaul the unit that oversees prostitution and gambling investigations.

“There are some serious issues that need to be addressed because there are more questions than answers following my initial assessment,” she said at a news conference Thursday evening.

The vice unit’s specialized officers will be reassigned to five other “critical enforcement” areas, such as domestic violence and robberies.

New investigations that the vice unit would typically handle will fall to patrol officers and other units, Hall said. It is unclear what will happen to open cases.

“We are responsible to the residents of this community,” she said. “Service is first. Accountability is important, and we have to operate within the highest level of integrity.”

The chief said it would be unfair to blame anyone for the vice unit’s issues, adding that it’s too early to say whether anyone will face disciplinary action. Hall has hired members of the International Association of Chiefs of Police to conduct an impartial analysis of the vice unit and help remedy its problems.

Dallas City Council Member Adam McGough, who chairs the public safety and criminal justice committee, said that like the chief, he doesn’t want to jump to conclusions about the vice unit.

 “I’m going to wait and let the facts come out,” said McGough, adding that he supports Hall’s plans to re-evaluate and restructure the department.

Dallas Police Association President Michael Mata also declined to speculate about what the chief found during her initial review.

“The men and women of the vice unit are of the highest integrity, and they have set the standard in dealing with vice offenses and investigations in North Texas,” Mata said.

Hall, who joined the force in September, is conducting a top-to-bottom review of the Police Department. Beyond the vice changes, additional shakeups are expected in the coming weeks, including a new organization structure and leadership staff.

Her command staff is likely to shrink — a move that could result in demotions.

Hall’s predecessor, Chief David Brown, had nine assistant chiefs and more than a dozen deputy chiefs at one point last year. The police associations often criticized his large command staff, calling it inefficient and unnecessary.

A draft copy of Hall’s organizational chart shows three assistant chiefs and seven deputy chiefs.

The department currently has seven patrol divisions, but that could change, too. Hall’s chart divides the city into four patrol divisions: central, west, east and south. Some of those divisions would be broken into smaller patrol areas.

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©2017 The Dallas Morning News

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