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A Letter from Chief Kunkle to DPD

Today I am announcing my retirement as Chief of the Dallas Police Department effective April 30, 2010. I have made the decision to leave this job I love because I believe it is both the right time for me and, more importantly, the right time for the Department. This Friday I turn 59 years old and in February I will have had 38 years in public service which began when I first joined the Dallas Police Department in 1972.

When I considered applying for this position, I was aware that DPD faced significant challenges. A high crime rate, poor morale, lagging public support, and a recent “fake drug” scandal were some of the issues. I spoke to some of my DPD colleagues. They believed that Dallas officers were the finest in the country and if given a chance to prove it, they would shine through. I have found over the past five and a half years that this advice was the truest I ever received.

As I look back over my tenure, it seems appropriate to note some of the changes and successes that we have realized. While I am very proud of these accomplishments, it’s important to point out that none of them could have been achieved without the hard work, dedication, and commitment displayed by our officers and non sworn personnel. I believe I’ve been more the beneficiary rather than the cause of much of this success.

- The end of 2009 will mark the 6 th consecutive year of overall crime reduction. Crimes per capita have been reduced from almost 90 per thousand in 2004 to approximately 62 per thousand this year – a 30% decrease.

- Over 700 officers have been added during the last 5 years – a 24% increase in departmental strength.

- Response times to emergency and prompt calls have decreased dramatically, from approximately 18.4 minutes in 2004 to 11.7 minutes this year – a reduction of over 36%.

- We established a renewed commitment to beat policing resulting in improvements to response times as well as increases in citizen satisfaction.

- Several policy changes designed to increase officer safety and decrease their exposure to high risk incidents were implemented. It would be disingenuous not to acknowledge that some of these changes were unpopular. Increased restrictions to the pursuit policy and the elimination of the neck restraint are two prominent examples. I’m very aware that the unpopularity of such decisions stems from the innate desire you each possess to apprehend offenders – to “put the crooks in jail”. I would only ask that these changes be ultimately viewed from the perspective with which they were decided – to minimize the risks to our officers and citizens.

- Various surveys and community interactions have provided evidence that public relations and citizen satisfaction have been significantly improved.

- Substantial gains in pay and benefits were realized including additional steps, compression of steps, and certification pay.

Other notable changes include;

- the creation of a Fusion Center,

- the opening of South Central Division,

- the establishment of the W.W. Caruth Jr. Police Institute at Dallas,

- the patrol rifle program,

- improved response efforts to the mentally ill,

- numerous city ordinance revisions designed to improve quality of life,

- the Patrol shift bid,

- Class B uniforms

No police department can succeed by itself. In addition to the hard work of our personnel, the support I’ve received from local government, the business community, and citizenry can not be overstated. The City Council, Mayor and City Manager’s Office have been unwavering in their level of commitment to see the Department succeed, even throughout extraordinarily difficult economic times. Unprecedented support from volunteer groups such as Safer Dallas/Better Dallas, and philanthropic organizations such as Communities Foundation of Texas and the Meadows Foundation has resulted in millions of dollars donated for equipment and training. And the collective efforts of the various police associations to represent the concerns of our line personnel to both the Command Staff and City Hall, though occasionally contentious, were nonetheless invaluable. Finally the faith and support of all Dallas citizens has been the foundation for our success.

Hard work and long hours come with the job. Still the hardest responsibility of all is dealing with the line of duty deaths and injuries of our colleagues. No one can prepare for the emotional toll this takes on the families and fellow officers. I will carry this grief forever, but the consolation is that the losses were not in vain and the sacrifices will never be forgotten.

I mentioned earlier that this is the right time for the Department. As my career as your

Chief comes to an end, I leave with confidence that the Department will continue to be led by dedicated and motivated leaders. I believe our organization can only benefit from the fresh perspectives and new ideas these individuals will bring.

I am honored to have been your Chief and am humbled by your support. Your

enthusiasm and dedication to the safety of the citizens of Dallas fills me with pride. The examples of bravery and sacrifice you’ve displayed will always be my inspiration. Never forget you perform one of the noblest professions in the world and the people of Dallas respect you for it.