Since new Dallas police Chief U. Renee Hall took over the job in early September, her department has shown increased flexibility in the ways it gets more officers on the street. For example, her department reassigned officers to patrol units. On Monday, the Dallas Police Department took another step by announcing plans to rehire retired officers as civilians, freeing up the officers currently filling those roles to go on the streets.
The retired officers "could be an observer in the helicopter; they could be clearing intersections on the radio if there's a chase, looking for suspicious persons or looking for a lost child," Assistant Chief Scott Walton said. "This is somebody that already knows police procedures, knows how to talk on the radio."
The ex-officers will work 30 hours a week, enough to qualify for city health insurance subsidies — something that Watson expects to be a major draw for the program — but won't be eligible for other benefits. They won't accumulate sick or vacation time, and they won't get to re-enroll in either of the city's retirement plans. The new hires will be paid at the midpoint of the civilian pay scale for the positions, Walton said.
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The department likely has enough unused cash in its budget to make the move budget-neutral, Walton told a seemingly receptive Dallas City Council public safety committee Monday.
Before pitching the program, DPD surveyed its commanders to find out where the former officers can be used most effectively.
"We went back and looked at what makes the biggest impact and what's going to free up officers in these administrative, investigative and support roles, so they can provide better service or so we can keep our staff levels high," Walton said.
After a social media blitz to attract recruits, DPD plans to interview and hire about 40 officers for the first run of the program. Applicants will interview, just as they would for a normal job, Walton said, and then be placed in the roles for which they are best qualified if the department hires them.