Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata and others sounded the alarm months ago: Now, by the end of this month, Mata says 72 Dallas Police officers will leave: 70 percent of them are retiring and the other 30 percent are going to make more money at other departments. “We’re losing some of our most experienced detectives: The investigator you want to come out and solve that homicide, that you need to come out and solve that sexual assault.”
Adam McGough, chairman of the Dallas city council’s public safety committee, is also expressing concern. “That’s the first of this number I heard of it. Anytime we have large numbers of officers leaving, it’s concerning.”
Most officers are leaving as a result of a crisis at the police and fire pension fund.
To save the fund, the Texas Legislature passed a law that requires police officers and firefighters to contribute more to their retirement.
In addition, the city also has to pay an additional $40 million into the pension fund in the next year.
To pay for that added cost, City Manager T.C. Broadnax is proposing to slash the number of funded positions in the police department from 3,613 during the 2016-17 budget year, to 3,094 during 2017-18, and 3,144 during 2018-19.
So can the department still respond to emergency calls quickly?
McGough says, “That’s the question and that’s a question for our new chief coming in on how she handles the staffing and allocations.”
He, Mata and others have warned about the number of officers dipping below 3,000.
Mata says, “We’re at a critical state and we’re not solving the problems that are going to help correct this. That’s why I’m a little disappointed in the city manager’s budget.”
To help, the city is moving civilians into some positions so officers can return to patrol.
Mata says the city needs to spend more money on public safety, such as officer training and equipment to attract more officers and keep the ones they have. “It’s another game of robbing Peter to pay Paul and it’s just not going to work long-term.”
The city council will receive its first briefing on next year’s proposed budget Tuesday morning.