99 Dallas officers quit in 10 weeks
The department has hired only 30 people for the next academy class in February
By Tasha Tsiaperas
Dallas Morning News
DALLAS — Ninety-nine officers have quit or retired from the Dallas Police Department since October, continuing an exodus that started last year.
Meanwhile, the department has hired only 30 people for the next academy class in February. Police officials aimed to fill the class with 60 officers, Interim Police Chief David Pughes told council members Monday at a public safety committee meeting.
The shrinking department is down to 3,252 officers, well below the desired 3,500. The force hopes to hire 449 officers this year to make up for attrition. Council wants police staffing to average three officers per 1,000 residents.
The department is faced with a troubled police and fire pension fund, low salaries compared with other cities and a rising crime rate.
Recruitment is lagging behind the rate at which officers are leaving. Last fiscal year, which ended in September, 294 officers left the department, and the department hired 142 officers during the same period.
The losses have hit every part of the police force, Pughes said.
There are only 13 motor jockeys, the cops who are likely to patrol school zones with their motorcycles, often writing speeding tickets. Last year, there were 22.
A property crimes task force was disbanded last month because there weren't enough officers. And other specialty units have been stretched thin.
"Being down 400 officers, it's spread throughout the entire department," Pughes said.
The chief said the department is moving resources and officers as needed to ensure there are enough cops to answer 911 calls.
Meanwhile, the department has been battling an uptick in violent crime this year.
There have been 160 homicides this year, and overall violent crimes — a category that includes aggravated assaults, robberies, murders, sexual assaults — are up 12 percent this year over last year.
Much of the increase has been linked to drugs.
"Right now the majority of the homicides we're seeing is home invasions of drug houses," Pughes said.
About 48 percent of this year's homicides have been solved, police records show. Pughes said that number is not higher because witnesses to drug murders are often unwilling to cooperate.
Retired Dallas Police Chief David Brown created a violent-crime task force in March to target high-crime areas.
Recently that task force, which is made up of officers from the K-9, gang, narcotics and tactical units, has been targeting fugitives. Pughes said the group is focused on getting repeat offenders off the streets, the ones who commit multiple robberies or assaults.
The task force is no longer geographically focused on five crime hot spots as it was in the beginning.
Pughes said the task force "continues to do a good job" and uses "intelligence-based policing" to patrol areas with the highest crime rates, which vary from week to week.