The State Fair of Texas is just weeks away, and Dallas police say your safety is paramount. But with a department that continues to lose boots on the ground, some are questioning how they are going to manage the massive event without taking away from the rest of the city.
Interim Police Chief David Pughes says overtime is the answer this year.
Pughes told members of the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee that the department will be offering up overtime to police officers to work the fair during its three-week run at Fair Park. The chief added that the staffing will not affect manpower on the street.
The news has some concerned, though.
"Somewhere, something's going to pay, someone's going to hurt," said Sgt. Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association.
Mata expressed concerns about the welfare of officers who he says are already taxed on overtime duties.
"This job is very, very stressful. We have made life-or-death decisions in a matter of seconds, and the mental health of these officers is paramount. We can't keep asking these officers to work double shifts," Mata said.
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But with the dramatic loss of hundreds of officers since last year, and more expected by the end of the month, Pughes says the department had to find a compromise.
"It's a balancing act, but we're going to make sure that through overtime pay and adjusting some of our resources, we're going to make sure that the level of all seven of our patrol divisions stays the same, also. That will not suffer as a result of the fair," Pughes said.
Pughes added they will have the same amount of officers at the fair as in past years, but fewer will be assigned as part of their regular shifts. Officers from Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Dallas Independent School District and the Dallas County Sheriff's Office will also provide security.
The State Fair of Texas opens on Sept. 29.