It’s hard to imagine anyone embodying the complexity of modern policing more perfectly than the Dallas police chief.If you were to stage the ongoing national drama about cops and black Americans, every role could be played by David Brown.He’s a black man who grew up in a poor neighborhood.He’s also a cop.His job, on Thursday, called upon him to protect marchers who were protesting black Americans’ treatment at the hands of cops.That’s just the beginning of his almost unimaginably complicated story.Brown’s former patrol partner was killed in the line of duty.His brother was killed by drug dealers in Phoenix.During Brown’s first few weeks as Dallas’ chief, his mentally ill 27-year-old son killed a bystander and a cop, and then was killed by cops. On Father’s Day.The chief carries the burdens of this history with intense stoicism. He has a reputation for jealously keeping his own counsel, to the point where he calls himself a loner. Whatever he is thinking is hidden behind his wary eyes, which in turn are guarded by thick black glasses.In some ways, Brown is ideally positioned for his job. As America boils with racial tensions and anger at police practices, it falls to Brown to help bridge the gap between the city’s cops and its black community.“The way we heal in the United States is one block, one neighborhood, one city at a time,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said Saturday. “All he can do is his piece of that. When people hear him talk — not in an eloquent and flowery manner, but in a straightforward manner — people understand it and they get it.”
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