San Antonio police are using the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund crisis as a recruiting tool. Meanwhile, there are concerns the Dallas Police Department could dip below the critical level of 3,000 this summer.
The Dallas police chief says 3,000 officers is a critical number because if the city has fewer officers than that, it could begin to significantly hurt response times and having enough officers to solve crimes.
The San Antonio department paid for ads on digital billboards along Highway 75. They’re aimed at recruiting Dallas police officers to San Antonio.
The ads tout a $7,500 hiring bonus for experienced officers and strong pension fund in San Antonio. Online, the San Antonio Police Department also lists incentives like certification pay and up to 52 days paid leave.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata says the reason the billboards are working so well is because Dallas’ pension is set to go broke in less than 10 years.
"They're not just getting our cops; they're getting the best of our cops,” he said. "If we don't have enough cops to protect the city, the city will fail.
San Antonio PD Spokesman Lt. Steven Trujillo said the billboards only appear in Dallas.
"Pension is important because it sets the officer up for the future to provide for their families,” he said.
But after years of mismanagement, the future of the Dallas pension is unclear. And now late into the legislative session, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told lawmakers on Monday he opposes the proposed fix.
"This is a Dallas taxpayer bailout,” the mayor said.
Dallas representative Jason Villalba criticized the mayor.
"We've been working together for 6 months, chair 2 years, with the expectation today would be the kumbaya moment,” he said.
While the politicians go back and forth, San Antonio is working to capitalize.
"We were looking for officers of comparable training and experience,” Trujillo said.
Pension Board Chair Dan Flynn said through a spokesman that he "will not let the pension fail despite the mayor's refusal to support the fire and police officers of Dallas." He also called the city out for “not taking responsibility.”
San Antonio officers will be in Dallas holding informational sessions next week to give more information about the jobs and a modified 16-week academy for new hires with either current or prior law-enforcement.