Police Chief Kunkle’s Retirement a Loss for Dallas

Yesterday, Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle announced that he will be retiring in April, after serving as chief for six years.

This is a big loss for Dallas.  I was elected to the council not long after the chief started, and I’ve gotten to see firsthand how he’s transformed the department and changed Dallas residents’ perception of the DPD.

Chief Kunkle is loyal to his officers and the the DPD.  But he knows that first and foremost, he is responsible to the people of Dallas and has to answer to them.  So whenever the police made a mistake, he didn’t circle the wagons and make excuses; he immediately acknowledged the problem, apologized, and took specific steps to correct it. That accountability and willingness to accept responsibility has changed the way Dallas residents view our DPD.  He’s in touch with Dallas residents because he attends community meetings across the city.  He always answers questions directly without political BS or spin. There is greater confidence in our police department today than there was six years ago, and we can thank Chief Kunkle for that.

The chief also hasn’t been afraid to make tough calls, like prohibiting his officers from using dangerous choke holds and instituting a strict policy about police car chases.  Both were met with resistence from some officers, but again, he was focused on protecting the public, not winning a popularity contest.

Chief Kunkle will be a tough act to follow.  Crime’s gone down under his leadership and public confidence in the DPD has risen.  While I wish we could talk the chief into staying a few more years (and a few more years after that), I understand and respect his desire to begin a new chapter in his life.  I wish him and his family the very best and thank him for his outstanding service to our city.

Dallas Loses 2013 FOP Conference to Cincinnati

I got a call this afternoon from Dallas FOP president, Mike Walton. Dallas lost the 2013 FOP convention to Cincinnati, 800 to 1100 votes. We think one thing that may have tipped the vote in their favor was that FOP members in states near Ohio wanted to drive to their destination, and they have a larger voting bloc than down south.

I’m disappointed, but am so glad I had the opportunity to work with Mike, Fred, Dena, and everyone else who put so much time and energy into this effort. We’re very lucky to have these folks in our DPD.

Enjoy these pictures from our trip, and check out the videos of our presentation (below). Mike was on fire, and did a great job selling our city and hitting all the right notes.

Next time, I’m bringing the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. I kid you not.

Dallas Vies for 2013 Fraternal Order of Police Convention

I’ve spent the last few days in Long Beach, California, which is hosting the bi-annual convention of the Fraternal Order of the Police. The FOP is a national organization of law enforcement officials. Dallas’ FOP has been working for two years to bring the convention to our city in 2013, and the 3000+ FOP delegation will make the decision on Thursday. Dallas is competing against Cincinnati, Louisville, and Virginia Beach.

In January, I joined DPD officer and Dallas FOP executive board member, Fred Mears, and Dena Rambo of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, as we gave the national FOP officers a tour of Dallas’ police headquarters. Fred’s been working tirelessly to bring the convention to Dallas, which would be terrific for Dallas’ economy. I’ve been working with the Dallas FOP and the convention center to ensure we could bring the best deal possible to the table.

I was really impressed with the regional cooperation and statewide support Dallas received. Richardson, DART, Fort Worth and others have stepped up to help lure the FOP to Dallas. And the FOP lodges across Texas have been really working the delegates here at the convention, encouraging them to vote for Dallas.

On Monday, I met with Dena from the DCVB and DPD officer Mike Walton, president of the Dallas FOP. Mike has been working his butt off, campaigning every possible minute. We discussed our presentation for Wednesday (each city vying for the 2013 convention gives a ten minute presentation to the entire delegation).

On Tuesday, I spent the day at our convention hall booth with Dallas’ 20-member delegation. We were working hard to sell the delegates on Dallas. We had two main points. First, the entire delegation would be in just 3 downtown hotels, all close to the convention center (including the convention center hotel) and connected by light rail. This was a big selling point because the group is usually spread out across whatever city they’re in. This has been especially true in Long Beach, where some of us (the Texas delegation) are 10 miles from the convention center. Second, Dallas is economical. The three hotels have agreed to offer the prevailing federal per diem rate, which is $115 right now. None of the other cities could beat that.

Last night, Dena, Mike and I got together to prepare our presentation. We worked on it about 4 hours, and I think it paid off. Today, we made our presentation to the whole delegation (I’ll post the video shortly).

This has been such a great group to work with. I can’t say enough good things about the DPD officers I’ve gotten to know on this trip, and Dena from the DCVB could not be a better cheerleader for our city.

Tomorrow, the delegation will vote on the host city for 2013. I’ll give everyone an update on the results. Keep your fingers crossed.

(FYI — I didn’t spend any taxpayer funds on this trip; it was paid for by the FOP and out of my campaign funds.)

Police Catch East Dallas Carjacker

Deputy Chief Vince Golbeck sent along the good news this morning:

Officers responded to a carjacking at 4117 Abrams Rd last night at 9:00 pm on service #103196-W. Anticipating this may be the same suspect in the string of recent robberies, other officers headed to points near the freeway that head South. An Officer was at Mockingbird/Central when he observed the suspect driving the victim’s stolen vehicle. He followed him until other squads arrived.

After a brief vehicle and foot pursuit the suspect was apprehended. He was transported to the Central Investigative Unit where he was interviewed and admitted to several of the previous carjacking offenses. So far the suspect is being connected to the following offenses: 74459w, 74831w, 79525w, 85654w, 09-001621 (Desoto PD), and 88266w. The suspect has not admitted to the offense on Martel involving the children or the offense on Matilda but we strongly feel he was involved in those as well.


We will release his name once the Detectives tell us all victims have been shown the line up.

My Take on Officer Powell’s Actions

I don’t know that there’s much more to add about the DPD incident in which an officer (Powell) prevented a man (Moats) from seeing his dying mother-in-law in her last moments. I am so glad this was captured on video so there is no question about what happened. The self-control Mr. Moats displayed is amazing. I don’t know if I could have reacted with such a level head in the face of that kind of cruel, irrational behavior.

Some people have questioned whether this incident is reason enough to fire this officer. The fact is, it is an incredible responsibility to be a police officer. The authority and power that comes with it require considerable restraint and good judgment, neither of which was displayed here. Continue reading

What’s the City Doing to Make Dallas Safer?

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.

City Proposes Police Pay Raises

Today the Council was briefed on a proposal to increase police pay so that we can (1) attract new recruits and (2) retain our experienced officers. Having more police officers is critical to reducing crime in our city. Our police chief has done a great job using the resources he has, but we need to support him in giving him the tools and personnel he needs to fight crime.

First, some good news: our recruitment is up as a result of the $10,000 recruitment bonus the Council recently approved.

Now we’re looking at other ways that we can address police recruitment and retention. Today’s briefing compared Dallas’ police salaries to 9 surrounding suburbs. Base pay plus “special pay” (state-mandated longevity pay, field training pay, detective pay, certification pay, education pay) were considered. We compared different levels of officers. Here’s where Dallas ranks:

Recruits: 4th
3-Year Officer: Last
5-Year Officer: Last
7-Year Officer: Last
Top-Step Senior Corporal: 2nd

The proposal provides a 3-year plan to become more competitive with surrounding cities to address the issue until the pay referendum lawsuit is addressed.

–Restructure the pay “steps,” eliminating the lowest steps, so that new recruits would make $41,690/year instead of $38,640.
–Give new recruits $10,000 bonus (already in effect)
–Give between $100-$400/month bonus for officers who have special certification training
–Reestablish tuition reimbursement for all city employees
–Add $5000 bonus for 5 years of service

–Make step increases more frequent. Instead of taking 15 years to achieve top pay level, reduce to 8 years
–Increase salaries for each step by 5%
–Add $3000 bonus for 10 years of service
–Increase certification monthly bonus by $100 for intermediate and masters certification

–Increase salaries for each step by 5%

If we adopt this plan, Dallas will have the following ranks compared to 9 surrounding cities:

Recruits: 1st
3-Year Officer: Last
5-Year Officer: 5th
7-Year Officer: 8th
Top-Step Senior Corporal: 1st

View the proposal.

There is a real sense among all councilmembers and staff that we need to do whatever we need to do to make our city safer, and there is real support for this proposal. I also spoke with representatives from the Dallas Police Association and they are pleased with the proposal.

My hat is off to City Manager Mary Suhm for proposing police pay raise and incentives that will help us recruit and retain good officers to make our city safer.