Detroit Deputy Police Chief Ulysha Renee Hall, a 19-year-veteran of that force and the daughter of a cop, will become the first female police chief in Dallas.
The Dallas police chief position was left vacant after Chief David Brown retired in October, a few months after the darkest chapter in the city’s law enforcement history, when five officers were killed in a downtown ambush.
Hall, who led the Detroit Police Department’s Neighborhood Policing Bureau, said Wednesday she looks forward to swapping one “DPD” for another “DPD.”
“We are a family in blue,” Hall told reporters during a news conference in Detroit.
Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax celebrated the significance of Hall’s appointment as the first female police chief in the city’s history.
“Chief Hall is a proven leader with a stellar background and a passion for public service,” Broadnax said in a statement announcing the appointment.
Hall said she will bring a woman’s touch to leading the Dallas Police Department.
“We kind of do it a little different, a little better,” said Hall. “We add that special something to law enforcement that truly, truly calms the savage beasts.”
But Hall takes over a police department in Dallas dealing with low morale, struggling to attract new officers to the force and emerging from a police and fire department pension crisis. Hall was one of seven finalists for the position, according to local news reports.
Law enforcement runs in the family for Hall. She was just 6 months old when her father, Officer Ulysses Brown, was shot and killed in the line of duty in August 1971.
Brown was working in a specialized police force cracking down on prostitution when he was slain. The killer was never brought to justice, according to WXYZ-TV in Detroit.
“My father not being there meant the same thing as every other child in Detroit or around the world growing up without a father,” Hall told WXYZ in a 2016 interview. “It has an impact.”
Hall’s mother was left to raise the family in the emotional years that followed. The incoming Dallas police chief described her mother as “my rock, sword and shield.”
Dallas now stands in unprecedented territory with women in the city’s top law enforcement jobs. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is serving in her fourth term. Faith Johnson, who leads the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, called Hall’s appointment “exciting.”
“I am proud that she is joining me and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez on the growing list of females in top law enforcement positions in Dallas County,” said Johnson.
The National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, or NAWLEE, says women make up about 13% of all sworn law enforcement officers working in the United States and that number drops at the senior levels of most law enforcement agencies.
Dawn Layman, president of NAWLEE, said her organization is starting to see women move up the ranks in law enforcement and that agencies are finally starting to see the value of hiring women in a world that has long been dominated by men.
But the scrutiny of female police chiefs, especially in major cities, is intense.
“Female police chiefs are put under the microscope more than their male counterparts. Unfortunately, we’re still in that realm,” said Layman.
In 2015, Hall was featured in an interview segment on the Detroit Police Department Facebook page. Hall told young women looking to enter a career in law enforcement to expect to be held to a different standard.
“You can do whatever you put your mind to,” Hall said in the video. “You always have to be twice as smart as your counterparts in order to really be taken serious.”