A pair of PHD criminology experts who reviewed a new Dallas Police efficiency study said Tuesday that the findings offer valuable suggestions to fight rising crime with a smaller police force.
"It's time to catch up," said Tarleton State University Criminologist Alex Del Carmen. "I would say to the Dallas Police Department that hopefully this will resonate to those that make decisions about appropriate funding."
Citizens have the chance to give their opinion at budget meetings. Four are scheduled Tuesday night at locations around the city and six more meetings are scheduled the next two nights.
"There are things that the DPD and the city can do right now, and there are things that are going to take time to do," said University of Texas at Dallas Criminologist Alex Piquero.
The efficiency study completed by consulting firm KPMG with $500,000 from the City of Dallas was presented to City Council Members by Police Chief U. Renee Hall Monday.
Dallas has been fighting a substantial increase in violent crime this year including a spike in homicides with a police force that is 700 officers smaller than it was in 2011.
The study said Dallas could make better use of existing police manpower but that data is insufficient to make some scheduling and resource allocation decisions.
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"We don't know what we don't know if we don't have the data," Del Carmen said "I often advise Chiefs of Police to make sure their data systems are in place to codify the data so we researchers are able to interpret it and give recommendations."
The study said up to 700 additional officers could be needed in Dallas to give residents 100% satisfaction on answering calls but that civilian police employees could be used to relieve officers on many tasks.
"Jacksonville is almost half and half with respect to civilian and non-civilian employees. So, that is what I consider it be a low hanging fruit, a short term strategy the department can do right now," Piquero said.
The experts agreed that allowing an outside study of the Dallas Police Department was a valuable step for Chief U. Renee Hall.
"She's taking it with a great deal of humility and she's saying that we're going to go forward with it and I think that's the right attitude to have," Del Carmen said.
They also support the study goal of increased community interaction.
"Policing is not an isolated activity in 21st century policing. It's not just data. It's the police working with the community. Both sets of parties have an active interest," Piquero said.
The Dallas City Council is reviewing budget suggestions for final votes next month that could help police adopt the study findings.