Since October 1, the Dallas Police Department has lost 99 officers who have either quit or retired.
The department, which lost four of its officers in a deadly sniper ambush in July, was already facing recruiting problems. The department has now lost an additional 99 officers in about 75 days since the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
The man faced with filling those slots, acting Police Chief David Pughes, reported to the Dallas City Council the department was having difficulty meeting the recruiting goal of 60 officers for the next police academy class. So far, only 30 officers have been hired. That class is scheduled to begin in February the Dallas Morning News reported.
The Dallas newspaper reported the department is about 250 officers short of its desired strength of 3,500. During the last fiscal year ending on September 30, the department was down a net 152 officers.
The Dallas Police Association expressed its concerns about the loss of some of its most experienced and senior officers to other cities, CBSDFW reported. The association’s new president, Mike Mata, told the local CBS affiliate, “I think most of those 99 were tenured officers, so those are our most experienced officers, the majority investigative detectives who solve crimes everyday.”
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings blamed the higher than expected attrition rate to the city’s ongoing battle over pensions. “This is why we are working so hard to address our pension crisis,” Rawlings said.
Mata said the city normally loses 180 officers during any given year. In the first 10 weeks of this year, the department has lost over half that amount. “It’s a huge difference in numbers,” Mata stated. 393 officers have left the department in the last year and nearly three months.
The interim chief told the council his department is about 400 officers short.
Another key factor in officer attrition is their pay, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. While the starting pay of a Dallas police officer is $44,658, Fort Worth starts its officers at $52,176. One DFW area suburb, Hurst, starts its officers at $65,744.
One Dallas city council member, Philip Kingston, said, “I think Chief Pughes is going to have to be creative. There’s nothing we can do to fix that in the short term. He has the number of officers he has and he has got to get results using those officers.”