After years of adding officers, the Dallas police force may soon be shrinking, a prospect that doesn't sit well with some residents.
The city manager has proposed the city not hire officers to replace those who leave to help bridge an expected $130 million shortfall in the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
But residents who work with police every day to keep their neighborhoods safe aren't happy with the proposal.
Jennifer Chapas, who started a neighborhood crime watch with her mother and neighbors, said her neighborhood would be "so vulnerable" without help from the police. She attributes her organization's success to the support it received from Dallas police.
"We just didn't want that in our neighborhood, so we all got together, and here we are today," she said.
A park at the corner of Maple Springs Boulevard and Hedgerow Drive is now a quiet place for families and a perfect spot for man and his best friend. But for a while, a bad crowd ruled the park.
"It took a long time to get the people to trust the police," said Hernandez, who is also a member of the Maplelawn Neighborhood Watch. "So they're on their side, and now what are you going to do? Take them away from them? That's not fair."
But Mike Walton, president of the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, one of the unions that represent Dallas officers, said concerned residents shouldn't worry.
"The attrition rate is not as great as we thought it might be, so we believe that we can handle the amount of calls and still deliver the amount of service that we do with the officers that we have," he said.
Walton said the union supports the city manager's proposal.
"We can't keep hiring new people and expect to pay them the same salary, so we need to stop hiring so that we can keep up and regroup," he said.
If the department hires new officers with the city's budget woes, it could mean layoffs in the future, Walton said. He said it's better to deal with furloughs and pay cuts instead.
The Dallas Police Department has grown from 2,900 officers in 2005 to more than 3,600 today.
The city has also proposed cutting pay and imposing furlough days for police officers and firefighters. In recent years, they were protected from layoffs and furlough days affecting other city workers.
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