As the Dallas Police Department continues to fight high attrition rates and low staffing levels, department officials said Monday they want to get rid of one of DPD's most onerous requirements for new recruits. Assuming the Dallas City Council signs off on the change, the department will take on recruits who've passed the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) exam even if they don't have the previously required 45 hours of college credit on their resumes.
"There are a lot of cities such as San Antonio, Austin and Fort Worth that don't require college — they only require a high school degree," DPD Assistant Chief Angela Shaw told the City Council's public safety committee. "In theory you're looking at officers that are probably good officers in these communities ... that we could reach out to and bring them to Dallas."
Changing Dallas' civil service rules would allow DPD to potentially offset the number of young officers who leave Dallas for law enforcement jobs in other cities with lateral transfers, Shaw said.
"Let's be honest, there's a lot of competition within the metroplex to hire applicants that already possess a TCOLE license and get them out there answering calls a lot faster," Shaw said.
Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston said that he was willing to waive the college requirement if that's what DPD wants to do, but that he wants the department to come back to the council in a year to show that the change is working.
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"If lateral [transfers] are a way to improve our staffing, I'm perfectly willing to let you give that a shot," Kingston said. "It sounds like you think this is workable, and that we will be able to train lateral hires on DPD policy in a way that they will conform."
In addition to widening the pool of people from which DPD can recruit new officers, the proposed rule change would also allow DPD to streamline its academy process, because recruits who've already passed the TCOLE test need less training, Shaw said.
DPD also plans to partner with regional police academies once the change is in place. If someone comes to the department wanting to be an officer but lacking the college hours required to apply, DPD would refer them to one of the academies, Shaw said.
"If they don't meet the qualifications, we will work with them to get one of those qualifications," Shaw said.