Dallas police officers march for higher pay

Police officers and firefighters filled Dallas City Hall Wednesday to demand a pay raise.

Dozens from the Dallas Police Association, Latino Police Officers Association, Black Police Officers Association of Greater Dallas and the Dallas Hispanic Firefighters Association marched into the council briefing wearing matching “Pay Dallas Police and Fire” t-shirts.

The group did not address the council, but stood in solidarity to show just how much more competitive salaries are needed. Leaders explained they are losing some of the most experienced officers to other departments where the pay is higher.

The starting salary at the Dallas Police Department is $44,659, according to the city's website. That’s compared to $52,176 in Fort Worth or $63,757 in Plano.

The Dallas Morning News reported between Oct. 1 and the end of June 195 officers left DPD. This fiscal year 52 left for other agencies.

Last month Dallas City Manager AC Gonzales proposed a plan to hire more officers, increase the pay and fund more equipment at the request of Chief David Brown. But the Dallas Police Association believes the plan is misleading.

DPA President Ron Pinkston claims the city manager is only offering a slight bump in salary for a select group of officers, ignoring the more experienced officers. He said the proposed pay increase still leaves Dallas officers far behind other North Texas cities.

“We have been under market in terms of compensation for many years. In recent years, we’ve taken pay cuts. We’ve taken unpaid furlough days. We’re not asking for the moon right now. We’re asking for fair compensation for exemplary work,” said Christian Hinojosa with the Dallas Hispanic Firefighter’s Association.

The group will be back to speak to the council next week as budget talks begin. They’re asking for a 5 percent increase every year for the next three years.

Meanwhile, Dallas city leaders are being asked to spend some of that money on housing for the homeless.

The Dallas Commission on Homelessness wants 600 homeless people off the streets and in housing by the end of the year, but said there is not enough room in the existing shelters.

“The city is not spending very much at all on this. Less than one half of one percent of the city’s allocation is against homelessness issues. So we’re not talking about a dramatic incremental increase, but a very modest one that is in the long run will be money very well spent,” said Britton Banowsky, chair of the Dallas Commission on Homelessness.

In total, there are 65 homeless camps across the city.