DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas Police Association hall was buzzing Thursday night as officers celebrated the retirement of 30 year department veteran and former assistant chief, Gary Tittle.
Retirement parties have become a weekly occurrence for officers.
With Tittle’s exit, though, the department will have lost half the command staff it had in place just a year and a half ago.
Thirteen of the 26 assistant and deputy chiefs will have left the department.
Another four have returned to the rank of major or lieutenant as part of a reorganization by the new police chief, Renee Hall.
The new command staff has the leaner look Chief Hall promised.
“I said coming into this department it is very top heavy,” she said in announcing the demotions last November.
Some former chiefs warn the top ranks may now be too thin.
“As a citizen, I would be concerned,” said retired assistant police chief Randall Blankenbaker.
Blankenbaker who left in October worries the loss of longtime leaders will only exacerbate the growing shortage of officers.
While trying to increase its numbers, the department in the first four months of this fiscal year lost 75 officers and only gained 41.
“It’s gonna take strong leadership to get this trend to change and the strong leadership is walking out the door, has walked out the door,” said Blankenbaker.
The Dallas Police Association was once a frequent critic of the department’s large number of chiefs.
Association president, Sgt. Michael Mata, though, says the department is now losing many well-liked mentors.
“The officers highly respected these chiefs,” he said.
Several departing chiefs have cited reaching retirement age and changes to the pension as major factors in their decision to leave.
Mata, however, pointed to a number of retiring chiefs who’ve moved on to other departments, taking law enforcement jobs in Galveston, Forney and Dallas ISD.
He blames city leaders for not providing resources to better retain talent.
“We don’t have enough officers because we’re allowing them and this command staff to just walk away, because we’re not offering them better pay, a better benefit package,” he said.
Former assistant chief Tittle, whose last day is March 14, will be joining the Richardson Police Department.