It took Dallas almost two years to get the results of the police staffing study it commissioned from KPMG, one of the world's biggest auditing firms. Judging from what DPD brass told members of the City Council on Monday, actually making any hay from the study's conclusions is going to take longer.
In August, when KPMG presented its findings to the Council, it suggested three scenarios that could get the department close to its goal of responding to every Priority 1 911 call in less than eight minutes. At current staffing levels, according to the report, the police department can leverage 806 weekly overtime hours and meet 98% of demand. It can hire 703 officers and meet 100% of demand without giving out any overtime work, or spread 881 overtime hours around and meet all of Dallas' demand by hiring 348 more officers.
DPD Chief Renee Hall indicated that the department is going to try to put the last option in place, starting with a pilot program at the South Central substation. As part of the pilot, South Central will get about 20 new officers. Those officers will bid for new shift assignments in February, so that the station is in line with the staggered shifts the study recommends for optimal coverage. The pilot will begin in March.
As part of the pilot, 911 callers reporting low-priority crimes will be required to use the department's online reporting system or telephone expediting system, to ensure that officers are able to spend as much time as possible in the field.
To the chagrin of the City Council, that pilot hasn't even begun yet, which leaves Dallas' six non-South Central substations even further away from the new staffing strategies being implemented.
"It doesn't make sense to wait when we know we have problems," said council member Adam McGough. "There's going to be great information that will come from (the pilot program) and will be things we can use across the department, but there's no reason when we have six other divisions that are experiencing huge increases in crime where we just say, 'We gotta wait until South Central finishes.'"
Over the last six months, Hall said, the department's been getting ready to start testing the recommendations. She identified the department's improved report management as a benefit that's already been reaped from the study.
Cara Mendelsohn, the chief's frequent foe on the council, questioned the wisdom of jumping into the plan's recommendations when the department has yet to develop a strategy for fully implementing the study.
"We're implementing things, we're test-piloting things, when we don't have that done, and it doesn't make any sense to me," Mendelsohn said.
The chief said she expects DPD to have implemented each facet of the study within 36 months. In order for the plan to be put in place citywide, according to Hall, the department will need to hire about 350 more officers.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.