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Dallas City Council votes to delay decision on additional funding for police department

The vote came after thousands called on city leaders to work toward defunding the police department.

DALLAS — The Dallas City Council voted Wednesday to delay a vote that would have provided additional funding for the Dallas Police Department. The vote came after thousands called on city leaders to work toward defunding the police department.

For months now, due to rising crime, police and city leadership spoke of the desperate need for more officers. Due to the hiring of nearly 100 officers, it was announced in the meeting that the department is over budget by roughly $6.5 million. 

Across the country, there have been calls from activists to defund police departments, which they say isn’t about eliminating police departments, but reallocating funds to address systemic problems and to spend more on the community, like housing and education.

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In Dallas, due to closed libraries and rec centers during the pandemic, the department hasn't spent the money it was allocated in the current budget. The vote would have moved some of that money into the police department to offset the cost of the additional officers.

Though the move was more of an accounting issue, the council members delayed the vote after members of the community spoke out in a public comment period.

Councilmember Cara Mendelsohn was among the votes against the delay.

“For the last year, the call at the horseshoe has been for more officers and a serious effort to address the rising violent crime in Dallas,” Mendelsohn said. “This year alone we are up 26% in drug offenses, we are up 23% in weapons violations, we are up 31% in aggravated assaults. And that’s on top of the 25% increase we saw in 2019.”

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Despite Mendelsohn’s no vote, the council is united in considering options for additional funding outside the police department.

“We need to focus on getting to the root cause of violence, getting to the root cause of crime and having a police officer on every corner is not the way to go,” Councilmember Jaime Resendez said.

Though there is unity in considering options it was disclosed in the meeting that 87% of the police general fund budget is personnel. 

Councilmember David Blewett spoke on how it seems difficult to envision a scenario where police funding can be cut without cutting people.

The council will make some difficult decisions in the months ahead.

“There are a lot of moving parts, people acting out of emotion, and we need to take time to take a step back so we can do the right thing,” Council member Carolyn King Arnold said.

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