DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall sought to reassure residents Monday after a majority of council members voted to reduce the department’s overtime budget last week.
After the meeting, a variety of council members held a news conference to defend their vote to cut the department’s overtime budget by $7 million, about 25%.
Then one day later, Governor Greg Abbott ripped the council’s decision, calling it defunding the police.
Mayor Eric Johnson has also sharply criticized the council vote on the overtime budget.
Council members Cara Mendelsohn, Jennifer Gates and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough voted against the move.
During the Dallas City Council’s Public Safety Committee meeting Monday afternoon, Chief Hall fielded questions from council members about the department’s overtime.
“We are not going to compromise the safety of our community regardless of what happens around the horseshoe,” Chief Hall said. “We will continue to provide the service. We will continue to utilize our officers on overtime. If that means we come back to you and say we need additional resources then that’s what we’re going to do.”
Chief Hall said the public needs to remember that the department has 600 fewer officers than it did last decade.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata recently accused council members of playing a shell game, saying Chief Hall or the new chief could ask the council in the future to increase funding for overtime.
More than $4 million of the $7 million the council reduced in DPD overtime, would go to non-public safety related programs.
The final budget vote will come next week, and it goes into effect October 1.
The debate over DPD’s overtime comes as violent crime in the city has increased from last year, which reached its highest level in a decade.
The number of murders between January 1 and September 13 increased from 150 last year to 156 this year, a 4% increase.
The number of aggravated assaults for non-family violence jumped by 28% during the same time period, year over year, from 3,202 to 4,112.
Deputy Chief Reuben Ramirez explained to council members what’s behind the increases this year.
He said people are having difficulty in resolving their conflicts peacefully, which is a change from prior years.
“What we had seen in previous years, was a higher concentration of offenses, murders that involved gang-related activity or drug activity or ever robberies and we’re not seeing that this year. We’re seeing that increased category of conflict argument.”
DPD stats show the overall violent crime rate increased by nearly 3.5% so far this year over last year.