Dallas Police Department faces hiring crisis
City Manager A.C. Gonzalez called the plan to hire 451 new officers this year "extremely difficult if not impossible"
By Tasha Tsiaperas
The Dallas Morning News
DALLAS — Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez called the plan to hire 451 new police officers this year "extremely difficult if not impossible" in a memo to City Council members.
Instead of increasing the police force, the city is expected to hire 300 new officers to replace those leaving, Gonzalez said in the financial forecast memo.
Officers have been quitting or retiring from the Dallas Police Department in droves. In December, Interim Police Chief David Pughes told council members that 99 officers had left since October, the start of the fiscal year.
Updated attrition numbers weren't available Tuesday. As of Dec. 12, the department was down to 3,252 officers, well below the desired 3,500.
The cost of running the Dallas Police Department will come in $2.9 million below budget because of pension and salary savings, according to the financial forecast, which is based on numbers through November.
Part of that savings is due to a failed measure to save the troubled police and fire pension system. The city would've increased its contribution to the pension fund if members had approved raising their own contribution rate.
But that savings could be offset by increased use of overtime. The city had planned to spend $15 million on police overtime in the 2015-16 fiscal year, but it spent about twice that to fill gaps caused by higher than expected attrition.
The council approved a public safety budget of about $732 million, which included pay raises for police officers and firefighters and the hiring of 449 new cops. Former Police Chief David Brown originally proposed hiring 549 in one year.
But hiring even 300 new officers to keep up with attrition might be difficult. During a hiring spree in fiscal year 2008, the city hired 376 officers out of a larger applicant pool.
The council wants police staffing to average three officers per 1,000 residents, but recruitment is lagging. Last fiscal year, which ended in September, 294 officers left the department and 142 were hired during the same period.
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