The Dallas City Council on Wednesday approved a half-million dollar staffing study for the Police Department.
It is being paid for with a $250,000 donation from the W.W. Caruth Foundation and $250,000 in federal asset forfeiture funds.
The city wants to know just how many cops does Dallas need to keep people safe.
Councilmembers Philip Kingston and Sandy Greyson both raised objections to the use of forfeiture funds.
“That is a fundamentally unjust process,” Kingston said. “It’s dirty money.”
Kingston voted against it as a result. Greyson said she was reluctantly supporting it even with the use of forfeiture money.
The department has lost a record number of officers this year. The total stands at 399. Thirty-five of them left Tuesday. Another 35 are set to leave in the coming weeks.
The department is at its lowest staffing levels in more than a decade. There are currently just under 3,100 officers.
Many officers are leaving because of bad morale, poor leadership, low pay and a pension fix that effectively reduced their take-home pay.
Officers tell WFAA that there’s not enough officers to keep up with the call load, putting people who call 911 in danger. Response times remain stubbornly high. Violent crime also continues to rise.
Dallas Police President Mike Mata says the time for a study is past, and the time for action is now.
“I think it’s too little, too late,” Mata said. “This is something that should have been done at the very beginning of the onset when we started losing an extraordinary number of officers.”
He and other association leaders say the city needs to view this as an emergency situation and do everything possible in terms of pay and benefits to keep the officers already on the force.
“How about we fix what we already know is broken,” he says.
These are just some of the challenges facing Renee Hall, a Detroit deputy chief who will be taking over leadership of the department early next month.