Chief Hall discusses Dallas police staffing study with Dallas council

Dallas City Council members questioned Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall on Monday about a new study into the operations and staffing needs of the department.

A six-month, $500,000 study on police officer staffing revealed the department may not be running as efficiently as it should. But it didn’t give a magic number of officers that the department would need to operate best.

“What I read describes a department that’s in disarray,” said councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn. “I mean I need a glass of wine when I read this.”

The study found police staffing declined by 10 percent from 2015 to 2018. It also highlighted systemic problems that developed over the years.

“Initially when we got the results, it’s hard to hear. It does let us know that we are deficient in some areas, not because we are deficient as a command staff, but for a number of years we probably didn’t address some of the things that were really important -- like moving to the 21st century, technology and some of the things that we should have done,” Hall said. It was her first day back on the job in more than a month after a medical leave.

While the study found more officers are needed, it did not offer a specific number to get the department where it needs to be. The report cited a lack of quality data from the department, which would have helped KPMG make that determination.

“I was a little concerned that we didn’t have that specific number. I know a lot of council was. Also very concerned about that. I know it’s hard to grow a department, to budget for a department when you don’t have that window,” said Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata.

The study suggests increased staffing alone "cannot achieve complete success." It instead recommended meeting department goals with current constrained resources -- like implementing shift changes and utilizing more community service officers.

Several council members expressed concern about how the information will be implemented.

Mata said 800 officers are still needed, but the study may be on the right track with some recommendations.

“I'm not worried about push back from rank and file. Especially a lot of these corrections were learned from rank and file. KPMG talked to officers and rode with them,” Mata said.

Hall said the report can be used to improve.

“It’s a tool to push forward to be the better organization that we can be. We are one of the best cities in the United States, but we can do better and we can be better,” Hall said.