Dallas council questions Dallas Police Department’s implementation of staffing plan

Dallas City Council members want to know what the Dallas Police Department has been doing with the results of a half-million dollar staffing study.

The study was released five months ago, but the department is still looking for a project manager to implement the plan.

Frustrated at crime in Dallas, the city council called for a special meeting with DPD that took place on Monday.

“They want big picture. ‘Can I walk out water my plants, without being shot at?’ We are down to basics,” said councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold

Council members wanted to know why the department had not met goals called for in staffing study by consulting group KPMG.

“We've been doing these implementations, but doing our other jobs too,” said David Pughes, DPD assistant chief.

The department just posted an opening to hire a project manager to implement the KPMG plan on January 3. That was after Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson called the police chief out in a letter for not outlining a plan to reduce violent crime in the city.

Pughes said the timing was just coincidence.

“It took longer than we expected to develop all the job specifications and where the money would come from in the city,” Pughes said.

Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn said the department is falling behind.

“We need to put our money where our mouth is, if you came to us and said we need the money to implement this, I think you would have gotten it,” Mendelsohn said.

While the department searches for a project manager, it is moving ahead with a pilot program in the South Central Division.  Among the changes to improve efficiency includes getting strict about requiring people to make a police reports online for crimes like theft.

“We're going to ask questions, because you have said, yes, yes and yes this report has to be entered. We aren't going to make them drive to a library, but we will be more stringent,” Pughes said.

Starting in March, the department will also add 20 officers at South Central and have six shift changes instead of three.

As for the actual staffing changes recommended in the staffing study, finally the chief is talking numbers.

“We're looking at telling budget 350 officers is where we need to be,” Chief Renee Hall said.

That would bring the department back to 3,500 officers.

“Where we could show year over year we could reduce crime for 13 straight years. I think that is a number we would ultimately like to be at,” Pughes said.

The KPMG plan also calls for the police department to add more civilians to its ranks.

Eventually that may mean that someone who is in uniform, but not licensed to carry a gun, could respond to take a police report on lower priority calls like thefts.