DALLAS — Dallas is an attractive city, and its skyline one of the best in the world.
But, apparently, it's not attractive when it comes to recruiting police officers.
"It's getting to the point that it's critical," said Mike Mata, vice president of the Dallas Police Association, as the department struggles to hire.
The last two academy classes have been canceled because there weren't enough applicants. News 8 has learned it may have to be canceled a third time.
"When you are getting recruit classes that you aren't able to get 10 recruits in there it's not financially workable to carry that class through," Mata said.
New Dallas Police Department officers make about $45,000 a year.
They can make $10,000 to $15,000 more if they go to surrounding cities.
Retention is the other big issue.
Dozens of officers are leaving for cities like Fort Worth, which has hired away more than 40 officers this year.
"We have to stem the tide of these losses," Mata said. "We have to keep the best and most qualified"
The impact is that there aren't enough officers to address all the public safety needs.
Over and over citizens tell News 8 it takes a long time for officers to respond to calls. Meanwhile, the violent crime rate is up 15 percent from last year.
"I don't feel safe at all," said Priscilla Garcia, a Dallas resident.
The city says it's working with the police associations to negotiate higher pay and ways to retain officers.
The Dallas Police Association says if something isn't done soon the future of the department looks bleak.
Full statement from city spokesperson Sana Syed:
Our starting pay needs to be increased, but our total compensation package remains competitive. We are currently working with the Association representatives to address starting pay and retention in the next Meet & Confer agreement.