Dallas Police Chief Claims Staffing Study Confirms Observations

Dallas City Council receives long awaited police staffing study

A long awaited staffing study of the Dallas Police Department confirms weaknesses Police Chief U. Renee Hall claims she observed when she arrived in Dallas from Detroit two years ago, Hall said Monday.

"We have a playbook. Let's fast-track getting the right people in that place so we can get to where we need to be, so we can get the ship moving," Hall said.

On her first day back from a six-week medical leave, Hall said the recommendation from consulting firm KPMG might not please citizens and police officers.

The report suggested officers are performing tasks that could be handled by civilians. Hiring additional civilians is in a 2019-2020 budget proposal.

"We just have to, as a community to step into the 21st century. We're operating the way we did in 1990 and 1980 and it's 2019," Hall said. "We have a responsibility to provide the service and we just have to educate our community where we're trying to go and how we're going to get there."

The report also said 700 more police officers would be needed to provide citizens with 100% satisfaction.

"It used to be, I called, no matter what I needed, somebody came. Now I think they're frustrated because it's taking so long to be responded to," city council member Jennifer Gates said.

Councilman Adam McGough said he expected to see more guidance from the report on specific violent crime fighting stategies and not just a review of patrol and detective functions.

"It sounds like this study doesn't give us any real guidance on those components, except that we try to get this handled more effectively and efficiently and then it allows us to shift more officers to those kind of deployments," McGough said.

Council member Cara Mendelsohn said the report indicated the department did not record data to measure the effectiveness of investigators, did not have clear strategy aligned with goals, did not have a consistent way of doing things and did not have computers that work.

"What I read describes a department that's in disarray," Mendelsohn said.

The leader of the city's largest police union, Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata, disagreed that the department is in disarray, but agreed that a clear mission was lacking.

"I do think we need to have a very clear and forthright mission. What exactly is our mission and how are we going to get there?" Mata said. "The worker bee already knows what's broken. You've just got to ask them and then take that information and do something with it."

Mata said input from officers helped the consultants draft their report and that a similar report 15 years ago produced few changes.

Results of a summer crime initiative by Dallas police with support from Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers showed a modest 5.19% drop in violent crime in targeted areas. The east target area led the figures with a large reduction of 36.36%. The northeast target area had a 32.65% reduction in violent crime.

At the same time, a new police and fire salary structure is in the works, designed to help retain more existing employees and hire more new ones.

The plan is based on a market survey of competing city's wages.

Dallas Firefighters Association President Jim McDade said it is exactly what employees have been requesting.

"So the suburbs, if they go up, we're going up with them," he said. "So no more will police and firefighters have that excuse, 'I'm going to leave because I can make more money.' They can stay here and make the same money."

Many of the changes will be included in the new fiscal year 2019-2020 budget to be finalized next month. Council members spent several hours Monday afternoon debating budget amendments, many of which were aimed at more improvement in public safety.

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