Why Dallas and Other Cities Are Battling to Keep Police Officers

By now, we're all getting numb to the idea that the Dallas Police Department is shrinking.The agency has been losing officers - some young, many seasoned veterans - for several years running. The turnover is part of a national trend of officers fleeing forces from Los Angeles to New York.Consequently, departments are stealing officers from each other as new recruits become scarce: Austin is luring cops from New York. Baltimore from Puerto Rico. San Antonio from Dallas.Suburban forces are siphoning from big-city departments where the pay is often lower and the job more risky.On an on it goes - a carousel of cops looking for greener pastures . That means Dallas will have to up its game or risk falling further behind."Departments are struggling to find not only interested, but interested and qualified, candidates to join the force," Jim Burch, vice president of the Police Foundation, recently told NBC News. "With everything happening around policing from salary to criticism, the question many people are asking is this, 'Is it worth it?'"Right now, the Dallas Police Department is at its lowest staffing level in 10 years - from a high of nearly 3,700 to less than 3,100 and falling.The problem is, Dallas can't land enough cadets or lure enough officers away from other departments to keep pace with the churn.City Manager T.C. Broadnax raised a white flag of sorts recently when he crafted his first proposed budget, which calls for shifting money away from police and to other places where it's needed, including the understaffed fire department.Typically, we'd consider that a high-stakes move, a gamble that could jeopardize the career of an administrator in a city where the police associations wield considerable influence.  Continue reading...

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