Budget proposal increases Dallas Police Department's budget by $35.5 million

The Dallas Police Department is making progress towards its goal of having 3,500 officers.

For years, the department has struggled to recruit and retain officers. But on Friday, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia says the city's latest budget proposal should help. He said this year's budget is the best proposal in his combined six years as chief of police. 

Friday, Garcia welcomed 19 of the department's newest members to the ranks.

Auri King from North Carolina is a mother of a 4-year-old son.

"My main goal is to reach the youth," she said.

Garcia says each year the city loses 190 to 210 officers to retirement. In June, he told council more than a quarter of the force was eligible for retirement with pension. So the race to get ahead of attrition and add to the ranks is a challenge. But this year, that may happen. 

"We are growing as a department. We hired 164 this year, 120 in academies and 90 in the pipeline," he said. "I’m happy about those numbers. Retention is another issue. We have tremendous support from city to make sure people don't leave the moment they are eligible."

DPD has 3,100 officers right now. The goal is to have 400 more. 

The proposed budget would increase DPD's funding by $35.5 million, which is a much different approach than two years ago when the city cut millions in funding for police overtime. 

The health of the police and fire pension is another important issue for retention. 

City council members will be receiving an update on the fund with its history of financial challenges in the coming months. 

"It’s an issue going on long before I arrived," Garcia said. "We need to have discussions about it. I know the importance of the pension to rank and file."

If approved, the city will spend more than $1 billion on police and fire for the first time.  That’s 60% percent of the city's general fund budget.