Chief Brown Gives Bullshit Excuse in Response to Bullshit NBC 5 Story on Distracted Driving

Categories: Media

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Last night, NBC 5 laid bare the truth about distracted driving and the Dallas Police Department. Over two years, the station reported, in-car computers and similar distractions were a factor in 13 accidents involving DPD vehicles. Over the summer, the department considered changing its policy governing the use of in-car computers while driving but opted against it.

"We train our officers on the danger of distracted driving," Lt. Paul Stokes, a police spokesman, told the station. "We believe if we train officers well, they will use good judgment."

The substance of the story was just fine, showing as it did how DPD balances the need of officers to get information in real time while keeping themselves and the public safe, which is of legitimate concern. The way it was presented, on the other hand, illustrates why local TV news can be so unbearable.

NBC's intrepid, eyebrow-cocking Scott Friedman.
You know the formula. Come up with a hard-hitting premise. Have a producer dig up some documents. Slap the "[Insert local TV network here] Investigates!" brand on the story. Hype it obsessively on air and online. Include as much entertaining footage as possible, preferably confrontations between the telegenic investigative reporter and public officials and/or shady businesspeople. Voila.

Here, the evidence of a problem -- 6.5 fender-benders each year involving driver distraction -- seems relatively small. It's perfectly reasonable for DPD to write that off as an acceptable risk given the benefit to officers of being able to use in-car computers as needed. There are obviously situations in which using a computer is dangerous and unwise, but that's a tough thing to spell out in a written rule.

Despite the lack of drama in the figures themselves, NBC 5 got its entertaining footage courtesy of DPD Chief David Brown. The reporter, Scott Friedman, approached him at a graduation of police recruits after being told that he wouldn't grant an interview and asked, in a not-at-all accusatory manner, why Brown's not implementing tougher policies or technology to keep officers and other drivers safe.

At first, Brown said he would answer the question, but then accused NBC 5 Investigates of ambushing him, being disrespectful to him and his staff and insulting people in the room by showing up to talk with him at a public event that the media was invited to. He suggested that NBC 5 has treated him differently than previous police chiefs.

"There's a level of (dis)respect that I've seen in my 30 years as a police officer here that predecessors of mine hadn't received from your station, and so my big question is, why are you treating my administration differently with the ambush here today at a police graduation?" Brown said.

Brown said if NBC 5 Investigates doesn't like the statements his staff gives, NBC 5 cannot approach or "ambush," him to ask him questions.

"I'm ashamed for your station, and that's my statement, and I'm not going to give an interview. Thank you," Brown said.

Brown, who came off looking like a dick, felt the need to clarify his remarks today on DPD's Facebook page.

On the day we bury officers the Department and the Chief usually get a day of solace from media members to reflect on the life of that fallen officer....this didn't happen here...on the day I was asked to interview while at a police recruit graduation, I had just come from the funeral of Ricardo Trejo, a veteran officer of the Dallas Police Department who had been recently killed in a vehicle accident while off duty...and so my question to the reporter and the news station was why had we not been given that respect, that day of solace and reflection on the life of this officer...this portion of my dialogue with the reporter was edited from the story which caused a mischaracterization of my frustration on camera for this story.

So, Brown starts off by blaming Friedman for asking him an unwelcome question on the day of an officer's funeral. Not at the officer's funeral, mind you, but simply on the same day. Brown's predecessors may indeed have gotten a daylong pass, but it's 2012. As a public official at a public event, he's fair game. And is Brown really so naive to whine about NBC 5 selectively edited his interview to heighten drama? That's what TV does. If you say something dickish to a TV camera, that's what's going on the air.

Brown goes on in the Facebook post to explain that the department already bars officers from using electronic devices outside the scope of duty and that the training program is "the model" for the country.

If that's the case, Brown is better off explaining that when a TV camera is shoved into his face, not the day after. Showing anger only encourages them.

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sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

why ?

why is it important for police to have a computer up in da face while driving?

its not!

a radio call comes in YOU HEAR IT AND PROCEED


drivers police and not, are driving around talking on their phones

that is insane

no one for any reason needs to be on the phone while they are driving/moving

pull over off a highway into a parking lot

sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

look, g dam it

if OJs glove didnt fit

what do we want



Our country is in the best of hands.


Just another example of the 85% useless morons,  assholes on the DPD. Including the ASSHOLE on top, shit flows down hill. Useless as TITS ON A NUN!

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

The Sheriffs's department has even worse drivers.  I remember being very nearly run down on Ross at Market while crossing at the corner; and, no, there is no light at that corner.


@Dallas_Observer Welcome! Bring your tired and feckless to this town. DPD will ignore your cries for help or hit you with their car.


 I said it then and it bears repeating: Brown doesn't deserve the right of the badge, not after what his nutjob kid did before he took the position.  His predecessors (even Terrell "The Crazy Dogcatcher" Bolton) would answer questions from the press, even if they were not in the most glowing light. Every time we promote one of the village idiots from the current ranks like Brown, we get this type of nonchalant attitude problem. Its why the DPD and the city need to start the search for someone outside the department  and make sure we get it right this time. The rank and file need a leader, not someone whom refuses to prosecute shoplifters to fudge crime stats or even isnt willing to work on reducing police accidents..


I already have learned to give DPD officers a little extra maneuvering room when they are driving around, as they are frequently distracted with their devices-- this usually takes care of things.

The one time I DID have a problem was when I pulled out a couple of blocks in front of a DPD officer who was not only distracted, he was also going well in excess of the speed limit.  I watched him approaching in my rear view mirror, anticipating the collision as he continued to stare at his monitor, completely oblivious to his surroundings.  At the last minute, I cut hard into a parking lot to clear the lane and he also looked up and slammed on his brakes at the same time.

Not content with this outcome, evidently, the DPD officer then proceeded to activate his red & blue lights, pulled in behind me and started yelling and accusing me of drunken driving.  He called for backup, and it took a couple of other officers to calm him down-- they did make me do a bunch of field sobriety tests, but eventually the other officers convinced him to let me go.  (No, I hadn't been drinking.)

Good times, that day.....

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Is the Dallas Police Dept. trying to KILL YOU?!?!?

Tune in at 10:00 p.m. to see this shocking report!

everlastingphelps topcommenter

Cops should ride in pairs.  If this means fewer cars on the street, fine.  All a single cop is good for is traffic stops anyways, and I don't care about those.  Patrol the beats, answer the calls and get REAL criminals, not trolling for plate numbers of people who missed an insurance payment.

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter


Unfortunately, even with an outsider there's a good chance you'll wind up with some hack that is just moving along from somewhere else's problems. The police chief game for medium to large cities seems to work a lot like the school superintendent game at that same level.

 Incompetents move up the ladder among 2nd and 3rd tier cities until they get a shot at a big department or district. The folks in the other city don't care what happens to the "former whatever" once he's out of their orbit, so nobody in the new city is wise to whatever shenanigans he pulled to get ousted from their organization. They come into the new place touting great accomplishments that everybody applauds and nobody really checks out, get themselves a nice salary and cushion to their pension (not to mention their cronies), proceed to screw things up for 3 - 5 years, then move on down the road.

The age of instant communication is threatening this model, but, things change slowly, if they ever change at all. 


@WylieH of course, the best way to shift responsibility is to officially oppress, selectively enforce, blame it on dead streetlights.  Blue trash.



Tonight at 11: A popular brand of soft drink will kill you!  We'll tell you which one after Wacky Weather with Wendy.


@everlastingphelps Little known fact, DPD stopped doing traffic patrol of area highways a few years back.  Think about it--- when was the last time you saw a DPD officer actively patrolling ANY of the interstates, Central Expressway, Hwy 114, etc.?

Of course, you can still be pulled over if you are doing something incredibly stupid and you happen to be unlucky enough to perform said stunt in plain view of a DPD officer who:  a)  just happens to be using the highway; and b) isn't en route to a call or otherwise engaged.  Also, Dallas County sheriffs patrol some segments of South Dallas highways.

everlastingphelps topcommenter

@WylieH @everlastingphelps I did notice, and it's a good development.  I also noticed that it didn't turn into a Max Mad style distopia just because they stopped.  The problem is for the first two years of that, that poxy Constables were out twice as thick with their inane "Let's write tickets but not have anyone serve papers and make sure people pay them" plan.

In any event, the majority of cars I see in Dallas are two-per.  If you've got THOSE cars crashing because the driver is trying to run the computer, then the passenger needs to put down the donuts for a while.  (And yes, I also know they aren't allowed to eat in the cars, it's an expression.)

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @WylieH The sheriffs office still runs radar at the most stupid spots imaginable.  For example, this morning on 30 EB at loop 12, why sit in the median and run radar on traffic that isnt flowing at any faster than 65 bc of the HOV exit and the loop 12 exit, yet every morning they are there and it causes and even bigger mess bc everyone slams on their brakes at the site of the cop car and it almost causes a wreck EVERY FUCKING DAY.

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