I share the frustration that, yet again, Dallas appears at the top of the pack for crime. But I take issue with the argument I’ve read elsewhere that “the City of Dallas won’t dedicate the resources necessary to reduce the crime rate.”
The issue is not one of funding. The Council is adding $40M in next year’s budget for 100 more cops, new police cars, a new computer dispatch system, and more 911 operators.
But, you say, we need even MORE cops. And you’re absolutely right. But the problem isn’t that the Council won’t fund more police. The problem is that we can’t get that many QUALIFIED recruits to fill more than 100 positions a year (assuming we can fill that many).
Keep in mind, we lose about 150 cops a year to retirement, resignations, etc., and we’ve got to fill not only their positions, but hire an additional 100 on top of that. In years past, we just haven’t had enough qualified recruits to fill the positions.
There are two keys to addressing this problem. First, we have to increase bonuses/other benefits to lure recruits. This year, the council approved a $10,000 recruit bonus (which they get over 18 months), and this has already resulted in a significant increase in applicants. (In my opinion, if recruits don’t remain with Dallas, and head to the suburbs after we trained them, they should pay us back.)
Second, we must increase police benefits and pay to make their compensation comparable to surrounding areas. Again, the council approved a good compensation package for police and fire earlier this year, which was supported by all the police associations.
We can and must go further with a strong compensation package for our DPD, to retain and attract the best police officers, and these measures are a good beginning.
Lastly, Dallas’ crime rate is going down. I know this doesn’t change the fact that compared to other cities, we have a long ways to go. But the fact is, the efforts of our new police chief and investment by the Council are paying off.
If you’ve got ideas about improving public safety, I welcome them.