Dallas County cities examine increases in social services after protesters demand change

Six Dallas County cities are looking into some of the ideas pushed in the national movement demanding to "defund police."

A local working group made up of city managers and police chiefs discussed alternatives to police responses on Monday.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins organized a conversation with concerned citizens and Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall at the end of May in the wake of the George Floyd death. That conversation and a request to examine a "divestment from policing and a reinvestment in community health and safety measures" led Jenkins to form the official working group.

The group includes city managers and police chiefs from Dallas, DeSoto, Lancaster, Mesquite, Irving and Balch Springs along with seven members of the public. County administrator Daryl Martin is the facilitator.

Jenkins says funding for social services could come from bond measures and would not necessarily have to come from police departments.

“Looking at ways to fund things that would lead to less police interaction. Like after school athletic activities for young people, social workers, people who find a living wage jobs, people who help you stay in your home, stop you from being evicted,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins says funding the social services would not be as expensive as the way cities are handling things now.

“The way we do it now, we might go out for a mental healthcare crisis and the person might end up in jail, even though they are not a great candidate for jail, and we will provide them the healthcare they need in the most expensive, inefficient way possible,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins says the goal is to create better interactions between police and the public. The timing of these discussions are key, as cities like Dallas will discuss their budgets in August.