Experts: Solution to Dallas PD shortage could be local students

As the police force in Dallas continues to shrink, FOX 4 reached out to police experts in other cities to see what they're doing. They say the solution is closer than people might think.

Experts say the key to recruiting police is not in expensive advertisement campaigns or trips to faraway cities. They say the answer lies within Dallas ISD. It’s an idea that almost got off the ground in Dallas a decade ago.

Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall has been working to increase the city's diminishing police force since she joined the department more than a year ago.

“There is no silver bullet answer to recruiting. It does not exist,” she said. ‘We have to figure out where people are who want to be a part of the Dallas Police Department.”

Former Dallas ISD Trustee Ron Price says he knows where they are: at Dallas high schools.

“The key to fixing DPD's problem is they have to grow their own,” he said.

About a decade ago, Price proposed a law enforcement magnet at Madison High School.

“When we announced the program, we had over 1,000 students and parents contact the high school trying to see if they could get in the program,” Price said.

By contrast, Chief Hall told city council members on Monday about the small return on investment from a recent recruiting trip to New York. Out of 104 applicants, only eight people were hired.

Retired Detective Lieutenant Steven Rogers of Nutley, New Jersey, has authored two books on community policing.

“Hiring people outside the city is all well and good, but I've found the best police officers are those who grew up in your city who know the history and culture of the community,” Rogers said. “Money would be well spent and well invested in drawing your residents to the cities they live in.”

Price says the law enforcement magnet would have solved one of the big problems with recruitment.

“We had a potential fix to that problem, and we dropped the ball, as a community,” he said.

If the current trustees revisit the proposal, Price hopes they recognize that it has the potential to build the police force and shape young lives.

“If you want to become a Dallas police officer, you can't get in the car with the wrong people. You can't go to the wrong places,” Price said. “With this, police would have the opportunity to mentor these young people starting freshman year.”

Price says the law enforcement magnet had the support of then-Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle. It would have partnered with El Centro Community College to offer students college credit for criminal justice courses, which would have allowed them to be hired with DPD after they graduated.

DISD says they do offer a law enforcement curriculum currently at Carter Collegiate Academy.