Controversy Over Dallas Freeway Traffic Enforcement

Dallas County Sheriff’s Deputies are doing more than they should be in some ways, not enough in others when it comes to freeway traffic enforcement according to Dallas City Council Members.

In a divided vote Wednesday, the City Council agreed to continue supporting the Sheriff’s traffic enforcement with $600,000 from the City of Dallas for the next budget year starting October 1st.

Philip Kingston was one of the City Council Members voting no.

“The contract contains no requirements that they comply with our training or the way we enforce laws in the City of Dallas,” Kingston said. “We farmed this supposed traffic management plan out to the Sheriff’s Department, they then fund with tickets that we would not ourselves write.”

Kingston said Dallas County policy is contrary to that of Dallas Police.

Sheriff Marian Brown declined an interview Wednesday but through a spokesman she said that deputies enforce all traffic laws to improve highway safety.

Figures show the traffic enforcement program costs the Sheriff around $11.8 million dollars for a two year period but revenue from tickets and outside sources covers only $5 million of the two year cost.

Citations issued by Deputies are handled in Dallas County Justice of the Peaced Courts, not City of Dallas Municipal Court. The money goes to Dallas County.

Figures provided to the Dallas City Council show the number of traffic citations written by Dallas County Deputies increased to 8,498 in 2017 from 3,288 the year before.

Assistant Dallas Police Chief David Pughes told the City Council Wednesday that he was involved in past negotiations with the Sheriff on traffic enforcement. He said the plan was initially designed to help relieve police of responsibility for responding to wrecks, to free police for other duties.

“The whole goal was to try to get these freeways cleared quicker in a safe manner so we could expedite getting people home or work quicker where they needed to be,” Pughes said.

Over the years, the Dallas County Sheriff’s freeway patrol areas in the City of Dallas have expanded to include sections of Loop 12, U.S. Highway 175, I-45, I-30, I-35E, I-20 and all of Woodall Rodgers Freeway.

Councilman Adam McGough complained that the Sheriff has refused to patrol I-635 in Northeast Dallas in the current deal.

“It needs to be renegotiated,” McGough said. “It needs to look at the areas of our city that have the highest need, not just necessarily where it’s convenient for the Sheriff’s Office.”

Her spokesman said the Sheriff’s freeway patrol area cannot be expanded with current funding.

Dallas City Council Members want a new deal next year.

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