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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas police officers salaries are once again at the center of debate. Dallas Police Chief David Brown will be talking with the City Council later today about the issue.

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As it stands, Chief Brown wants to hire nearly 550 new officers – at a cost of just over $20 million. The chief is also asking that “step increases” for sworn officers be doubled. The price tag for those cost of living raises — $8.9 million.

The Chief also wants the City to increase their pension contribution to 28 ½ percent. That change would have a price tag of some $2.9 million.

In a statement before addressing the Council, Chief Brown said, “The Dallas Police Department needs more officers patrolling neighborhoods to keep Dallas safe. Since I’ve been Chief of Police, 1000 employees have been cut from the police department; 200 police officers and 800 non-sworn support staff.”

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Chief Brown said without the changes Dallas residents could see longer response times due to a shortage in patrol. The problems he said are the result of a higher percentage of officers leaving the department and not being replaced because of budget and a smaller applicant pool.

“The department is understaffed and underpaid. My request to add 200 officers over attrition will save citizens’ and officers’ lives,” he said.

Brown also said that making up for the shortcomings by offering overtime isn’t the answer either. “Overtime funding has saved lives, but it is not sustainable in the long term. Our officers are working everyday and putting themselves in dangerous situations to keep our community safe.”

Chief Brown was on the schedule to talk about police pay this morning, but a pressing matter prevented him from being there. He’s now on the agenda to talk after lunch.

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