DALLAS (CBS11) – It’s taking Dallas Police longer this year than last year to respond to Priority 1 emergency calls.

After a Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee briefing Monday morning, Interim Dallas Police Chief David Pughes told reporters, “We want to be there in eight minutes, when our time is eight minutes and 20 seconds, that’s 20 seconds too long.”

Pughes blamed the problem on the declining number of police officers on the force. “This year, our battle is strictly around attrition.”

But what adds to that problem he says is how long it takes some officers to get back out on patrol once they drop a suspect off at the Dallas County Jail. “When you talk about putting an officer off the street for more than two hours, up to three hours, for a basic arrest, that’s problematic.”

The Chief says what would help is if the jail could hire more nurses and treat more inmates there instead of taking them to Parkland Hospital. “What really kills us is the fact if we have to take someone out of the jail up to Parkland. We’ve been working on it for a long time.”

Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway brought the issue up during the Dallas City Council’s Public Safety Committee briefing Monday morning. “We need to figure out a way to speed that up. Maybe an express line when the Dallas police are brining in a prisoner so that our police can come back out on the street. That helps us shorten the response times.”

CBS11 emailed the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department for a response but had not heard back as of Monday evening.

The Dallas Police Department reports having 3,125 sworn officers as of July 31.

Records show it hasn’t been this low in ten years.

Department statistics show there were 3,186 officers during the 2007-08 fiscal year, and 3,018 during the 2006-07 fiscal year.

The reason is because DPD hasn’t ever lost this many officers: 361 between October 1, 2016 through July 31st.

That does not include the 72 officers leaving the department this month alone.

The attrition statistics so far this year are more than double from ten years ago, when 173 officers left during the 2007-08 fiscal year, and 176 officers departed during the year before.

But Chief Pughes says he believes the worst is now over. “I believe this month will be the last month we see a large exodus due to retirements, and then we’ll start shifting back to a more normal attrition.”