Dallas mayor wants city manager to add more police officers, increase salaries

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson wants the city manager to add more police officers to next year's budget and salary increases. 

This comes after the city council cut $7 million from the Dallas Police Department's overtime budget last year. 

Johnson said the city manager's current budget would actually cause the police force to shrink by not hiring enough officers to replace those that leave.         

Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata is hopeful that the city council has learned a lesson since it slashed police overtime funding in the last budget by $7 million after a year when "defunding police" became a polarizing term in the George Floyd police reform movement.

"We have to get back to true neighborhood policing," he said. "Not a cop on every corner, but a cop in every neighborhood that every citizen knows.

President Joe Biden is now urging states to use COVID-19 relief funds to hire more police officers. 

Mata says it is what the majority of people want. 

"Over 86% said not only do they want more police, but they also want better-trained police," he said. "I think that is what every member of DPD wants."

It remains to be seen if Dallas City Council members will support the proposed changes to the city manager's budget plan. 

While the city does have COVID-19 relief funds and an additional $31 million surplus from a better-than-expected economic recovery, there will no doubt be competing different priorities among council members. 

Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough says cutting police overtime did not equal any kind of savings for the city. 

"We far overshot the budgeted amount for OT. Those funds have to come from somewhere," he said.

Mayor Johnson is also calling for the city to make good on its promise for salary increases that stay on par with the market rate in other cities.  He believes that, along with a push to hire police officers from other cities, will allow the city to actually realize the optimistic hiring goal.

The mayor also wants the city to budget for more 911 call operators, so people are not placed on hold. 

DPD Chief Eddie Garcia said in a statement that he has been working with the city manager on the budget and is confident his final budget will include the resources the department needs.