Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings attended the police department's annual memorial to fallen officers Wednesday despite a letter last week from a police union asking him not to attend.
Rawlings described the ceremony as heart-wrenching and expressed that in his speech to the attendees.
The ceremony comes a week after the Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter to the mayor, and asked that he not be at the police memorial ceremony. The letter said he would be a distraction and that families are suffering because of him.
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"I don't even understand why they would write that. I just love our police and fire, and I think the mayor, the highest elected person in the city, must speak to the citizens and the sworn officers and tell them how important they are," Rawlings told NBC 5.
"I understand the tensions they've been there, but today was not about me. It wasn't about the current officers. It was about respecting those officers that put their lives on the line," he said. Much of that tension from some officers stems from the Dallas Police and Fire Pension battle.
The mayor refused to support a recent bill in Austin to fix the pension system, saying it was too hard on taxpayers and didn't give the city enough control of the pension board in the future. But things are looking better, he says, because the Dallas City Council just voted unanimously to support a new compromised plan in Austin.
The mayor said that he'll be in Austin on Thursday to support the pension bill.
"We've got to be able to save this fund. It's critical for these police and fire folks that have really in many ways given their whole career to the city of Dallas, and I want to make sure they've got a retirement plan," he said.
Going forward the mayor says the city must have the flexibility to fund the pension as needed in the years ahead. He also says the city doesn't have a plan just yet for the anniversary of the July 7, 2016, police shootings and at this point is leaving it up to the police unions to decide.