Keeping Deputies on Patrol in S. Dallas County

Dallas city and county leaders try to hash out a plan to keep deputies on traffic enforcement.

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    Traffic enforcement by the Dallas County Sheriff's Department is on the chopping block, but county leaders are trying to salvage the program.

    Deputies conduct traffic enforcement on Interstate 30 and freeways in the southern half of Dallas County.
               
    Currently, deputies issue speeding tickets, respond to crashes and free up police officers for crime-fighting.

    Even with ticket revenue, Dallas County loses $6 million per year providing the service. Now the county wants cities to chip in or lose county traffic enforcement.

    "We will not handle those cities," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. "And look, we've got to look at what our core functions are. We can't afford to do other people's duties for them anymore."

    The main job of deputies is running the jail, but Dallas city leaders say they want deputies to continue traffic enforcement.

    "Budgets are tight, but this is ultimately going to be good for traffic. It's certainly going to be good for air quality and making sure our police are focused on what they need to do," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

    The sheriff said deputies complete crash investigations in one-third of the time it takes Dallas police to do it.

    "That's probably one reason why the crime is going down, because the police officers are where they need to be, in the neighborhood," said Dallas Councilman Tennell Atkins.

    The county is facing a $27 million budget shortfall. The sheriff warns that even if cities and the regional transportation council pitch in, it may still be forced to cut 20 percent of the 160 deputies currently on staff.