Fewer Police Cars Patrol Dallas Streets

The summer heat may turn out to be the Dallas Police Department's biggest foe.

The 100-degree days are taking their toll on the department's fleet of cruisers. Dozens of cars are out of service, and the city also has a shortage of auto mechanics.

To keep officers from sitting idle, the department's top brass plans to partner dozens of officers up. Anywhere from 30 to 50 fewer police cars will be cruising the streets of Dallas at any given moment.

"That gives me a buffer of extra cars to move officers to when cars break down," Lt. Dale Bernard said.

Bernard said having officers ride together is better then having one officer sitting around the station house waiting for a vehicle.

Most patrol officers like the idea of riding with another officer for safety reasons, but reducing the number of patrol cars on the streets could have a negative effect on crime, they say.

It's widely accepted among law enforcement that high visibility is the best crime prevention tool.

"The productivity and visibility by having those officers on the streets -- you'll see a decrease in that," said Glen White, president of the Dallas Police Association.

But the department's top brass said 500 more officers are in patrol now than there were two years ago.

In addition, partnering officers up reduces fuel costs, increases safety and results in a better response time to serious calls that require two officers.

Until Dallas fills its nearly 35 open mechanic positions, police expect the patrol car shortage to continue.

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