DALLAS (CBSFW.COM) – In a long-awaited and much-anticipated move, the Dallas City Council approved hiring a firm to conduct a staffing study at the Dallas Police Department.  

The department has lost hundreds of officers during the past several years, so Adam McGough, Chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee expressed relief Wednesday as the study can now get started.

“It’s something we’ve been asking for and advocating for a long time,” said McGough.

Chief U. Renee Hall said the study will determine if the Dallas Police Department has enough officers out on patrol and in investigations, and also look at how officers use their time and their call load.

The chief pushed for the study and said she is keeping an open mind about the study.

“To say that we don’t have enough officers, I’m not willing to say that,” said Hall. “I say what we have to do is make sure that with the resources we have that we deploy properly. The staffing study will tell us exactly what we need.”

McGough is more certain.

“Everybody knows we need more officers, the question is what is the right number and how do we get to those numbers at a quicker pace?,” said McGough.

While the study will be conducted over a two-year period, Chief Hall said she will know in the first 60 days whether the study shows if the city has enough officers on patrol.

Records show the department now has 3,007 sworn officers, which is down from 3,362 sworn officers in 2016.

The department continues to lose officers.

During the city’s fiscal year 2018, which ended September 30, the city hired 199 new officers, but 240 left the city, a net loss of 41.

Last month, the city hired seven officers but 28 left the city, a net loss of 21.

Veteran Dallas Police Officer Nick Novello, who’s been an officer in the city since 1982, made his case to the Council Wednesday for the city to hire more officers.

“Officers, the stress levels are off the charts,” said Novello. “They want more with less. We’re not manufacturing widgets, we’re out there dealing with real-life defining problems.”

He told the city council response times for the most important calls are higher than the department says.

“The civilian, the business community priority one calls I have seen on the computer for an hour, hour and a half,” said Novello.

Chief Hall said she appreciates the concern by Officer Novello but downplayed what he said.

“What I can tell you is some of those incidents are very isolated,” said Hall. “When you look at response times, for the most part priority one, we are lower than this time last year.”

Records show the response times for the most urgent calls, known as priority 1 calls, during the first ten months of this calendar year are down very slightly from the same period last year from 8.40 minutes to 8.34 minutes.

Council Member McGough said the response times are a concern.

“Up in Northeast, we’ve had a higher response time than other areas of the city, and that bothers me because it’s my district in Northeast, and so the simple fact is we need more officers,” said McGough.

Violent crime has dropped slightly during the first ten months of 2018 from the same period last year.