No matter who one asks, be it members of the Dallas City Council, Dallas Police Department brass or Dallas' police unions, all involved agree that DPD has to do a better job of retaining and recruiting police officers. For the department to increase the ranks to 3,700 or 3,800 officers from the roughly 3,000 employed today, DPD must get control of its attrition levels.
Monday, Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall told members of the council that her department is going to have a net loss of officers again this fiscal year, despite the changes and reforms the council and department have put in place as they've tried to address DPD's retention woes.
"We will lose officers [this year]," Hall told council member Philip Kingston.
Kingston, who helped his council colleague Scott Griggs push through raises and increased starting salaries for all Dallas Police officers and firefighters last year, said he was frustrated that the DPD is still underwater when it comes to new hires.
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"We need something else," he said. "This is the third or fourth year in a row [that we've lost more officers than we've hired]."
Through the first four months of the 2018-19 fiscal year, DPD has hired 42 new officers while losing 56. Applications appear to be down from previous years, too. In both 2016-17 and 2017-18, DPD had about 1,200 people apply to be cops. This year, the department has received only 286 applications. At that pace, fewer than 900 people would apply with the department this year.
City Council member Kevin Felder told Hall that it's become clear that DPD has to change the way it recruits if it wants to remain competitive.
"If you want to get ahead of other cities," Felder said, "you're going to have to do something they're not doing. From my perspective — and I want you to look at it one more time — [DPD needs to offer] take-home cars and relocation [expenses] because affordable housing is an impediment for police officers, firemen and just regular citizens. People need affordable housing. If you can assist an officer to get affordable housing, they're going to look at that package that you're offering. ... Just keep trying to beat [other police departments] in terms of raising the starting salary, that's not the answer. We've already done that, now we need to go to the next step."