Former DPD command staff write letter about pension fund crisis

Many former top brass who are no longer with the Dallas Police Department sent a letter to state lawmakers in support of officers and retirees facing possible pension benefit reductions.

It's the latest move in the battle over how to fix the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund crisis.

The three-page letter is now in the hands of every state lawmaker. The goal is to educate the public and people in power as to the problems with the pension and how doing nothing will have a serious effect on public safety.

Even in retirement, former DPD Deputy Chief Andy Acord finds himself taking charge.

“A group of us got together because we were concerned about the pension,” he said. “We were concerned about our fellow officers, those who are active and those who are retired.”

Acord is one of 32 former DPD command staff members who got together two weeks ago to draft a letter simply titled "Public Safety Crisis, Dallas, Texas."

“It’s getting to a point that we’re about to hit ground zero,” he said. “We’re going to need to hire more officers and not just officers, but quality officers. We can't just put anybody in a uniform.”

There are concerns the department could dip below the critical level of 3,000 officers this summer.

In the letter, the retired police execs say an increase in "serious crime" is inevitable if DPD continues to lose officers and is unable to replace them due to the ongoing problems with the pension fund.

“It’s like any other business. You're going to go where you feel more secure,” Acord said.

The San Antonio Police Department is using the pension crisis as a recruiting tool, boasting a strong pension and hiring bonus for officers on billboards posted in Dallas.

And as state lawmakers consider a bill aimed at rescuing the doomed pension fund, Acord hopes the letter will hope to sway a vote in the favors of police and firefighters as well as the residents they're paid to protect.

“We’re here to take care of the good citizens of Dallas,” Acord said. “But we do not want these other problems looming in the back of our minds while we're trying to do the good work here in Dallas.”

A spokesman for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he had nothing to say about the letter aside from the "extensive public testimony in Austin on Monday."