New Dallas police Chief U. Renee Hall will execute a major shakeup of her department in order to get more cops on the street and streamline the Dallas Police Department's command structure. Hall plans to cut down from nine assistant chiefs to two or three and from 14 deputy chiefs to about half that number. Additionally, Hall will consider reassigning officers serving as detectives or as members of task forces to the department's patrol division in order to reduce response times and create a more visible police presence in high-crime areas.
The reductions will go into effect Nov. 1, after officers serving as members of DPD's command are given a chance to reinterview for assistant and deputy chief positions, Hall told reporters at Dallas City Hall on Monday. At that point, Hall said, she will choose the best candidates to make up her new command staff. Those who don't make the cut will be reassigned.
Hall told the Dallas City Council's public safety committee Wednesday that DPD is still about 500 officers short of being fully staffed, with 3,072 sworn officers, including members of the police academy, on the department's rolls as of Sept. 25. In order to address the problems that are cropping up for the department, including longer response times across the board from 2016 and a 68 percent uptick in business robberies in September 2017 over the same month last year, Hall felt that the restructuring, in addition to improved recruitment, was necessary.
Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, praised Hall for holding DPD higher-ups accountable, rather than blaming the rank-and-file for the department's shortcomings.
“Now, we're looking at the command staff, and we're actually just asking them, not them specifically, but asking the group of them, 'Have you made a difference? And if you haven’t then maybe you shouldn’t be where you’re at,'” Mata told KDFW-TV
Hall said the department is already taking steps to address the rash of business robberies, citing several arrests as evidence of what more cops on the street can do to affect crime.
"We've had several significant arrests. In northwest [Dallas], we've made eight arrests ... [of people] responsible for 11 robberies, and then in southwest [Dallas], we arrested six individuals who were responsible for 17 robberies," Hall said.
Business robberies are a key challenge for the department, Hall said, so DPD has installed sign-in sheets at 7-Eleven, McDonald's, Metro PCS and Family Dollar stores in the affected areas. Patrol officers passing the stores are required to step inside and sign the sheets, ensuring that cops are in the businesses at random times throughout the day.
Hall is also looking to DPD's detective bureau in order to beef up patrols as the department attempts to crawl back to full strength.
"I've created a matrix, and each of the divisions have to report to me what their caseload looks like because we're looking to deploy more [officers] in patrol. I just ask for a little bit of grace to see what we have and what we need," Hall said.