DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Police pay is at the center of what has been and is a heated debate for the Dallas City Council. They stood in silent solidarity last week, now Dallas first-responders are speaking up and demanding more money.
The Dallas City Council met this morning for a briefing on next year’s budget and there were a lot of police and firefighters in the council chambers. First-responders, wearing t-shirts that said “Pay Dallas Police and Fire,” filed inside City Hall and took up every seat in the small chamber.
The budget for the Dallas Police Department makes up 39-percent of the $1.23 billion general fund. The budget proposal for the next fiscal year would add 200 new police jobs.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown attended the briefing and told that Council that some 760 people have applied to DPD just since deadly police shooting the July. But he said those candidates and potential cadets will go elsewhere to be paid more. “But if the pay doesn’t improve, even if we hire that number, they’ll leave and go to other agencies,” he said. “So it’s wrapped around in the pay issue. The hiring is wrapped around the pay. I don’t generally separate the two.”
So far this year there have already been more than 200 officers who have left the Dallas Police Department.
Violent crime is up and the number of police on the streets is down. Some officers say the only way for Dallas to compete with other departments across the metroplex, and keep more officers from leaving, is with big pay increases.
Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez has presented a plan to hire additional officers and increase pay by 10-percent, but that raise is to help retain younger officers or individuals new to the department.
Dallas Police Association president Ron Pinkston said the proposed pay increase is merely the City trying to catch up after some younger officers had their salary structures frozen for four years. Meanwhile, the department is losing veterans to other, higher paying agencies in North Texas.
For the next three years police officers want a five-percent raise on top of what the City Manager is offering.
Since the topic at City Hall is the budget, the Council will also have to reconcile the fact that the City of Dallas is on track to pay police $32 million in overtime this year. Of that amount, $700,000 went to officers working overtime after the July 7 police ambush.
The Dallas City Council has until September 21, about six weeks, to set the next budget.
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