Dallas Police Union leaders have two concerns about the push to get more officers on the street.
The largest Dallas Police Academy class of 82 recruits that started training in September shows the success the Dallas Police Department has had with recruiting.
But field training requires that recruits be paired with an experienced officer with at least the rank of Senior Corporal and Dallas has a shortage of Senior Corporals.
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Several police union leaders tell NBC 5 that recruits are now being doubled up with a single training officer on many occasions because there are too few training officers.
“They’ve had to pair up maybe one trainer and two recruits inside the car,” said Sergeant Sheldon Smith, Dallas Chapter President of the National Black Police Association. “It’s a good problem to have that we have all these recruits coming out, but we’ve got to provide them the proper training, just be sure they are safe and they provide a great service for the citizens of Dallas.”
George Aranda, Dallas Chapter President of the National Latino Law Enforcement Association confirmed the lack of training officers. He said the police department has failed to promote Senior Corporals. On some occasions, Aranda said, recruits are receiving no field training because of the shortage.
“That’s going around all the substations. Rookies are being told, ‘Hey you’ve got to work the station because we don’t have enough FTO’s,’” Aranda said. “That’s just common sense. We can’t get away with hiring all these individuals and not properly train them. It’s going to be a liability.”
In another effort to put more officers on the street, a briefing for the city council this week said a police efficiency study conducted last year has helped identify 95 officer positions that could be replaced by lower-paid civilians. The 95 officers would, in turn, be reassigned to street assignments.
“Civilians can be good in some positions but I also believe that we need that expertise of the police officer in positions that are critical to fighting crime,” Smith said.
Police officials did not answer a question Tuesday about where in the department the 95 positions have been identified.
A frequent location for civilianization over the years has been the police auto pound in West Dallas where there is a mix of sworn officers and civilians on duty now.
“It’s an old story with a new name. We’ve done it before,” Smith said.
Another could be the Fusion Center where police at headquarters monitor surveillance cameras and crunch data on crime for other divisions.
“I don’t agree with civilianizing anything that has to do with hands-on police issues,” Aranda said.
Smith said experienced officers may be necessary for many of the inside tasks.
Talking with Dallas City Council Members Monday, Police Chief U Rene Hall said she hopes to add civilians and push aggressive officer recruiting.