DALLAS — Dallas police Chief David Kunkle called a news conference Thursday morning to explain his decision to retire from the department after more than five years as chief and almost 38 years on the city’s payroll.
“I’m going to try not to get emotional,” the chief said, wearing the uniform he said reflects unity with the cop on the beat.
“When leaving, I wanted — if possible — to leave with my dignity and my head held up,” he told reporters at Dallas police headquarters.
Kunkle — with wife Sarah Dodd at his side — outlined what he felt were his biggest accomplishments, including a significant reduction in the city’s crime rate during his tenure.
“I think in certain jobs, there’s a need for continuity, and there is in this position,” he said. “But I also think in certain jobs there’s a need to wipe the slate clean every so often.”
Kunkle said he feels the time has come for that change at the top. “I am not leaving tired, disillusioned, for any reasons other than in my mind it, was the right time to go.”
Whoever succeeds him, Kunkle said that person will face a range of challenges.
“There’s tremendous expectations when a new chief comes in Dallas — great expectations from the citizens that the city will be dramatically safer; expectations from the officers that their work lives will be better and improved and different; and expectations from members of the community that there won’t be critical incidents involving Dallas officers, particularly use of force, deadly force and emergency driving.”
The chief thanked people who have supported him over the years, including former Mayor Laura Miller, who was present at the news conference.
He also pointed out that he doesn’t yet have any other job lined up when he leaves the department at the end of April.
The news conference came to an abrupt end about 30 minutes after it started when Jack Hammack, one of the founders of Safer Dallas Better Dallas, collapsed as Kunkle was speaking.
“Get the defibrillator,” Kunkle commanded after Hammack — who had been standing next to Laura Miller behind the podium — appeared to faint.
Ten minutes later, a police spokesman announced that Hammack was feeling much better and had even “cracked a little joke” as he was being examined by paramedics.
Hammack is a former mayor of Highland Park and has been instrumental in fundraising activities on behalf of Dallas police.