DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Police officers participating in a controversial program at the Dallas Police Department are giving the experience good ratings.

In August, detectives and desk officers began rotating back into patrol for two weeks at a time.

“It was a risky proposition,” said Chief David Brown, who claimed it was an unusual move.

Last fiscal year, the police department hired only 18 officers due to budget constraints. In that same period, it lost 203 officers, mostly to retirement.

“We had a significant gap,” he said. “I was looking for ideas to fill in that gap where neighborhoods wouldn’t feel that void of officers leaving the department.”

The chief’s decision drew loud criticism from union leaders.

“You’re taking detectives and while they’re investigating cases, they’re putting them all on hold for two weeks, so they can go back on patrol,” said then-president of the Dallas Police Association, Glenn White.

An internal survey of more than 600 officers, though, found 84.7 percent reported an “overall positive experience” during their two weeks in the field.

“It’s very, very, very refreshing,” said Officer Nancy Skinner, a volunteer coordinator who took time off from her regular duties to patrol Dallas neighborhoods.

“It kind of brought back the reason I became an officer,“ she said.

The department has made several adjustments, based on the feedback from the survey, and exempted some officers, including its pilots, from serving on patrol.

“It’s not perfect by any means,” said Chief Brown.

Doing more with less, though, is a new reality for the department.

“We’re having to take risks because that’s just the new environment we’re in economically because there’s no money to grow the department,” he said. “The only failure is the failure to try something new.”

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