1. #1
    Sheepdog
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    Size of Dallas PD may be hit by budget woes

    Size of Dallas police force may be hit by budget woes

    By TANYA EISERER Staff Writer teiserer@dallasnews.com Published 15 March 2011 11:02 PM

    Dallas says it finally has enough police officers, but the city’s agonizing budget problems may see the force dip back below what is considered to be the ideal size.

    New data show the city’s population grew by about 9,200 over the past decade to about 1,197,800 residents in the 2010 U.S. census. And the city has 734 more officers than in 2000.

    The relatively flat population growth means the city has reached a decades-old goal of having three police officers per thousand residents, albeit unexpectedly.

    “Additional officers are the key to the crime rate going down,” said Charles Terrell, head of Safer Dallas, Better Dallas and former head of the mayoral task force that set the goal in the late 1980s. “We’ll be a much safer city and the citizens will be much safer” if the city can stay within throwing distance of the three-officers-per-thousand goal, he said.

    Dallas has seen a 36 percent reduction in crime over the last seven years. Violent crime has fallen nearly 50 percent over nine years. Police Chief David Brown says the beefed-up police staffing made a significant difference in the department’s crime-fighting efforts.

    “I think that boots on the ground, along with other strategies, technologies and our ability to engage neighborhoods, have been the most significant things we’ve done to reduce crime,” Brown said.

    Terrell, former chairman of the Texas Criminal Justice Department Board, said the task force that established the three-per-1,000 goal looked at the staffing of other major cities and determined that was the ratio the department needed to effectively fight crime. The City Council subsequently enshrined it in an ordinance.

    But each year, Dallas fell far short far of the goal, with just a handful of officers hired, until in the mid-2000s, the City Council became determined to rid itself of the designation as the U.S. city with the highest crime rate among those with a population of more than 1 million.

    The city shed its spot at the top in 2008, and Dallas has continued to enjoy falling crime numbers.

    “We’re enjoying a much safer city,” said Mayor Dwaine Caraway, also a past chairman of the council’s public safety committee. “As long as we are meeting those goals, we will keep all options open and we’ll deal with it as needed. ... It is not our intent to fall below the three per thousand.”

    But with the city facing a budget shortfall at least $60 million in the next fiscal year, everything is on the table.

    “This stuff is really challenging, and I can’t tell you where it will end up,” said City Manager Mary Suhm.

    If the city does not hire to replace retiring, resigning and fired officers, the police force will quickly fall below the three-officer threshold. The department ended 2010 with 3,684 officers. By Tuesday, that number had already fallen to 3,597, just a few officers more than the number required to meet the standard.

    Brown and Suhm said they do not believe a 1980s ordinance should be the city’s guiding principle that determines the size of the force.

    “That was a goal but the real goal is a safe community, and I don’t think a number necessarily guarantees that,” Suhm said, adding that that goal was created before major technological advancements, such as the widespread use of surveillance cameras. But she added that she does not want to see the size of the force fall significantly.

    Brown said he believes the department has “adequate resources” to do the job.

    But it is with trepidation that Anna Hill of the Dolphin Heights Neighborhood Association watches City Hall consider what’s next. She says drugs, prostitution and other types of crime used to be rife in her neighborhood east of Fair Park.

    “We had all kinds of problems,” said Hill, who has lived in the area 30 years. “People were beginning to be afraid of reporting it to the police because they didn’t trust them.”

    But she’s seen a real change as City Hall beefed up the police force.

    “The police are very active in the community. I’ve noticed a 100 percent improvement,” she said. “Even though sometimes they have bad ones in there, it’s just a better police force than what it used to be.”

    David Kunkle , former Dallas police chief: He would consult with Police Chief David Brown, but said, “My sense is that that there are enough police officers for the department to meet its primary objectives” without hiring in the coming fiscal year. He said he believes crime will continue to fall. “You’re not going to feel the impact for a while” of a hiring freeze because it takes about 18 months to get a recruit trained to work alone. He said the city can supplement the force with overtime and by replacing desk officers with civilians. He opposes raising taxes.

    Ron Natinsky , Dallas City Council member: He believes that with crime continuing to fall, it appears the city has an adequate number of officers. “I don’t know that the number of three per thousand by itself is that magical," he said. He added that he wants to hear Brown’s thoughts on whether the city will need to hire to replace officers who leave. He also noted the lengthy amount of time that it takes to get an officer through the training process. “I don’t think we’re going to need a tax increase to keep the public safety force at the levels we want them,” he said.

    Mike Rawlings, former Pizza Hut CEO, Dallas parks board chairman and city homeless czar: “I’m committed to continuing to grow our police force,” Rawlings said, adding that he believes public safety is critical to the growth of the city. “I think we must maintain the [three-officer] standard or even do better. We can never be too safe in this city. ... It’s working to drive crime down. Let’s stick with it.” He said he was committed to replacing officers who leave. He said he believes that the force can be maintained without a tax hike.
    “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

    "You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don't have time to think about how many's with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that's about to set down on him."

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    Supplement the force with overtime that the city is no longer paying? Replacing desk officers with civilians that the city fired a couple years ago? Hmm.

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    It's amazing how that works, eh?

    I was very surprised by the was Dallas uses (or doesn't use) PSOs. Where I'm from originally, the local PDs use PSOs to take report calls like BMV, thefts, etc... they were even trained to collect evidence such as finger prints and take photos...
    “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

    "You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don't have time to think about how many's with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that's about to set down on him."

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    Three officers to 1,000 is pretty damn impressive. Dallas could do more with less if they had an administration that backed the front line.

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    Sheepdog
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    We already do less. That's not 3 patrol officers to 1,000 citizens.....
    “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

    "You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don't have time to think about how many's with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that's about to set down on him."

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    DAL
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    LAPD has 2.3 officers per 1,000 residents.
    Last edited by DAL; 03-17-2011 at 12:36 AM.
    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

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    Sheepdog
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    I don't believe we have 3 to every 1k... but that's how we roll...

    We also only have a little over 1 mil people... not nearly the size of LA...
    “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

    "You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don't have time to think about how many's with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that's about to set down on him."

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    So when it says the "coming fiscal year" I take it as FY 2012? Hopefully they don'y ax the academies that are planned for the summer....already been through that once.

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    Word on the street is all academies are going to be cancelled. But who really knows in the end what is gonna happen. I just show up for work and do my job. But I'd be very careful about relocating until right before an academy class starts just to be on the safe side. If it does happen... Good luck... Even with the budget woes and fickle command staff Dallas is a really great place to learn and do police work!

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    We have less than 1.3 officers to every 1,000 residents. Spread very thin.

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    This is really starting to give me a headache

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    Quote Originally Posted by corona11 View Post
    This is really starting to give me a headache
    Don't think too much into it. The same rumors were being said about Fort Worth last year. Usually once the academy starts you are good to go, I've only seen a couple departments axe the academy while recruits are still training.

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    Sheepdog
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    Quote Originally Posted by DFWPolice09 View Post
    But I'd be very careful about relocating until right before an academy class starts just to be on the safe side.
    Very good advice. Even if we weren't having "budget issues" there's a bad habit around here of things just changing randomly...
    “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

    "You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don't have time to think about how many's with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that's about to set down on him."

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    "The department ended 2010 with 3,684 officers. By Tuesday, that number had already fallen to 3,597, just a few officers more than the number required to meet the standard."

    Is that correct? Almost 100 officers since Jan 1 have left (fired, forced to quit, retired)? That is a pretty staggering pace. On pace for over 300 officers this year and should put them under the 3 per 1 k without hiring.

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    Before the "issues" we averaged 150-200 a year leaving.

    We have about 40% of our department eligible to retire, so the minute they jack with the pension, you'll see most of them leave.

    Add to that 5-6 year officers are going to be stuck making the same as brand new rookies for at least the next 3 years as well as pay cuts...
    “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

    "You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don't have time to think about how many's with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that's about to set down on him."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sayitundefined View Post
    "The department ended 2010 with 3,684 officers. By Tuesday, that number had already fallen to 3,597, just a few officers more than the number required to meet the standard."

    Is that correct? Almost 100 officers since Jan 1 have left (fired, forced to quit, retired)? That is a pretty staggering pace. On pace for over 300 officers this year and should put them under the 3 per 1 k without hiring.

    Yes that’s correct, many officers are retiring and/or going to different departments.

    Latest on academies/hiring. I heard directly from a Chief the other night that as of now the May academy is a go, but will only have 18 recruits in the class. (My class had over 50 in it) However, after the May class there will not be another academy class until September of 2012 at the earliest! Chief was adamant that there will not be any layoffs of sworn personnel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mullah81 View Post
    Chief was adamant that there will not be any layoffs of sworn personnel.
    Just gonna run off enough...
    “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

    "You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don't have time to think about how many's with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that's about to set down on him."

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    300 per year is not staggering by any means. It is still less than a 10% attrition rate.

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    The majority of retirements are in the 1st quarter of the year. I have been told thats for tax reasons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jtshooter View Post
    just gonna run off enough...

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    I will have to give the personnel department a jingle tomorrow, but it would seem odd they would still be doing a testing process and not having an academy for a year and a half plus. If so....makes it easy to see how the money is getting flushed down the toilet.

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