Expert questions Dallas police overtime usage

A memo released late Friday shows the largest areas of Dallas police overtime is spent on officers in patrol, criminal investigations, and special operations.

But an expert FOX 4 spoke with said the memo fails to answer the most important question.

“The city provided a breakdown of where the officers were assigned when earning that OT, but it doesn’t pay any attention to what they were doing,” said Dr. Timothy Bray, director of the UT Dallas Institute for Urban Policy Research.

Bray said that should concern councilmembers because knowing the tasks officers are performing on overtime can lead to better efficiency.

“Heard in past of delays when taking person to jail,” Bray said. “If that is what is costing our OT, I think we would all agree that is not most efficient way to use our talent at DPD.”

The single biggest overtime expense for the recent fiscal year is for patrol -- $13.5 million for nearly 202,000 hours of extra work. Bray said that amount of OT would equal 97 officers working full time.

If the city identifies responsibilities that civilians can perform, and moves more officers into patrol, he sees a cost-saving advantage.

“We spent months preparing officers in the academy to be a police officer and it is not the thing we have asked some officers to do,” Bray said.

He said some overtime will always be necessary, but perhaps it doesn't need to take 6% of the budget, as it has this fiscal year. Bray said the Dallas City Council needs to do more than make cuts.

“Changing policy thru budget cuts tends to be less surgical and more of a blunt force,” Bray said.

The Dallas City Council is proposing to put the $7 million saved toward a cornucopia of issues, including a traffic signal system, the arts, and bike lanes.

FOX 4 asked for a more detailed explanation about the use of overtime from DPD as well as the city manager's office, but both declined to comment.