Dallas Police Bust Their Overtime Budget By Millions

The Dallas Police Department has been hit with everything a big city has to offer so far in 2016. There's been a well-publicized "spike" in violent crime and the murder rate, a string of robberies in Oak Lawn and a campaign visit by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. And then there was July 7, the night when a protest downtown ended with Micah Xavier Johnson ambushing and killing five Dallas police officers.

DPD has coped as you might expect, resulting in officers taking $32 million worth of overtime during fiscal year 2016, Assistant Dallas Police Chief Santos Cadena told the Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee on Monday. The department reserved $17 million for overtime in the 2016 budget. There's $9 million left in overtime taken or to be taken that isn't paid for, so the city's going to have to come up with the cash. 
The shortfall has been reduced by $6 million, which was spent on overtime instead of salaries. The department allocated that amount to pay for new officers that weren't hired. Since more officers left than were hired to replace them — so far in 2016, DPD has seen a net loss of 219 officers — the money saved could be spent on overtime. 

What's this money being spent on? About $7 million is being handed out as part of an effort to address crime hot spots like Oak Lawn after the LGBTQ-targeted robberies and citizen complaints about quality of life crimes (like panhandling and petty crime downtown) and slow 911 response times.

The rest of the money was spent on DPD's violent crime task force (about $1.5 million),  the June Trump rally at Gilley's ($200,000) and DPD's post-shooting response (about $700,000).

The numbers presented by the department Monday might not even represent the full extent of the overtime needed by the department. Much of DPD's successful response to the statistical uptick in violent crime early this year used state and county resources — like having Dallas County Sheriff's department take over some warrant serving responsibilities — rather than upping DPD overtime, Kingston pointed out.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban donated $1 million to DPD after the Orlando shooting to pay for new cameras and overtime in Oak Lawn. The department has the money, Cadena said Monday, but hasn't used any of it yet.

The city's proposed 2017 budget includes $19 million for potential overtime.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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