DALLAS – Shortly after retiring as the police chief for the city of Dallas last year, David Brown was hired by Dallas Mavericks proprietor Mark Cuban to do special projects and discover ways for his team to have a positive impact in the community.
Part of Brown’s duties with the Mavs were on full display this past Saturday when he joined forward Harrison Barnes in hosting the five-year veteran’s basketball camp at Exline Recreation Center in South Dallas. Over 150 kids were in attendance and were guided through the day-long event while learning thought-provoking skills about both basketball and life.
The Mavs Basketball Academy Coaches and Police Athletic League (PAL) of Dallas also were on hand and offered their expertise for the kids – ages eight through 18 – who were there to soak up the knowledge.
During the event, Brown joined Barnes in a frank discussion with the youth about developing leadership skills in the community, building relationships between law enforcement and young kids, and providing life and character-building skills. It’s a significant project very dear to Brown’s heart since his roots are in Dallas.
“I’m working with the Mavericks in a social entrepreneurial effort and looking for opportunities where sports entertainment can impact the community in a positive way,” Brown said in an interview with Mavs.com. “There are a lot of directions you can go in, and right now my emphasis is on programs like this, efforts like this, that the Mavs are already doing – and they’re doing it really well.
“But because I was born and raised here and I have some notoriety, I want to leverage that to go beyond just the basketball camp or a pop-up event in the community that’s not sustained or impactful in a more grandeur way where people’s lives are significantly improved.”
Brown, who spent the previous six years as the Dallas police chief before announcing his retirement last September, said the idea for him to join the Mavs was broached from an engaging conversation he had with Cuban.
“We were at my retirement party at the mayor’s house,” Brown said. “He threw me a private retirement party and he and I discussed this idea of social entrepreneurship.”
A 1979 graduate of South Oak Cliff High School, Brown wants inner-city kids thinking more outside of the box, and realizing that they have the expertise to own their own company instead of going to work for someone else.
“I have some ideas about entrepreneurial projects in the inner-city for young people to think more entrepreneurial,” Brown said. “It’s a little bit of a connection, because (Cuban) does (the ABC popular TV show) Shark Tank, and I’m trying to figure out a way to create that opportunity for young people to look at themselves more than just employees, and see themselves as employers.”
Cuban has always admired Brown from afar and his firm way of policing the city of Dallas. Along with others across the nation, Cuban watched as Brown stoically guided Dallas through a major crisis when a lone sniper fatally killed four DPD officers and one DART officer following a peaceful demonstration in downtown Dallas last July 7.
The shootings reluctantly thrust Brown into the national spotlight, and the 33-year veteran of the DPD drew praise for impeccably handling a crisis which invariably could have divided this grief-stricken city.
“I have been a huge fan of Chief Brown’s for a long time,” Cuban said. “When he announced his retirement I reached out to him and offered him a job doing special projects for the Mavs. Essentially, I asked him to go out in the community and find ways the Mavs can have an impact.”
In addition to his newfound duties with the Mavs, Brown works as a contributor for ABC News and is the managing director of investigations and disputes practice of a New York security consulting firm named Kroll. Brown also has been on a whirlwind tour promoting his new book – Called To Rise – which gives an in-depth look into his private life and his journey from growing up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood to becoming the chief of police of one of the largest cities in America.
“Who would have thought that a kid from Oak Cliff would be on Fox & Friends one day and then be on Good Morning America, and then The View,” Brown said. “And then we just booked Trevor Noah (the host of The Daily Show) and Face The Nation, and we’re waiting to book CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper, and Morning Joe with MSNBC.
“It’s been exciting, but exhausting all at the same time, but it’s really a good problem to have, because the most important thing is that we’re discussing important issues for the community that I’ve learned. And mostly that’s sharing with people who will benefit who are going through some of the things I’ve gone through.”
When Brown looked into the crowd at Saturday’s basketball camp in South Dallas, it was as if he was gazing into a mirror. Yet he’s acutely aware that the tools he used to rise from a challenging situation as a youngster are also available to every kid who heard his voice at Barnes’ camp.
“It meant a lot to have Chief Brown here, just because not only of everything he’s meant to the community, but I know he has an extremely busy schedule,” Barnes said. “He’s launching a book and he’s doing a lot of different things.”
“So for him to take the time out to come here and speak to these kids, I think it means a lot and I think these kids appreciate it because he’s a figure that they know.”
Sargent Brad Deason has been with the DPD for 29 years, and has established a lengthy personal relationship with Brown. The two used to work together at the Dallas Housing Authority, and Deason saw Brown’s rapid rise through the ranks first-hand.
More importantly, Deason knows Brown is a man of faith who cares deeply about the community he grew up in, and who will be a major source of pride for the Mavs.
“You can never forget where you came from, so you always have to pay it forward,” Deason said. “(Brown) was a PAL kid, so he understands how important it is, because we have to try to get the kids (now) — BEFORE we have to deal with them later — and give them something to build on.
“So him allowing us to do the things in the community and try to bridge that gap between police officers and the community has been magnificent for the city of Dallas.”
Brown’s unwavering affinity for always doing what’s best for his community is also part of the reason Cuban steadfastly wanted him on his team.
“He has so much knowledge of Dallas, I just wanted the benefit of his experience and the new opportunities to help the city that he would uncover,” Cuban said. “So far he has done everything I have expected and more. Even better, I feel like we are just getting started.”
For Brown, he’s anxious for this start with the Mavs to blossom to even greater heights. His eyes frequently dance from side to side when he thinks of the projects he plans to present to Cuban in the near future.
“First of all, you’ve got to get people discussing it and bringing ideas to you about how that looks rather than dictating it to communities,” Brown said. “I always believe in listening to the community about whatever projects we want to do to improve it rather than you dictating it to them.”
“It seems to be from my experiences doing this stuff 33 years as a police officer that the community has a lot better ideas sometimes than we all have on the outside looking in. But I’m excited about this role with the Mavs.”