More Dallas police officers put on 911 response patrols

Dallas police officials are going back to basics as they try to deal with higher-than-usual 911 response times.

Officers assigned to the gang unit, youth outreach, knock-and-talk task force, crime response teams and the metro task force are all answering 911 calls this month. That totals more than 100 officers back on patrol duties.

And neighborhood patrol officers — each of seven patrol divisions has about 12 officers — are also being asked to pitch in when they can.

“We’re trying to find people wherever we can,” said Assistant Chief Santos Cadena.

Police associations have pushed for commanders to shore up patrol in recent months and stop using so many specialized units. Police Chief David Brown has defended the use of task forces, saying they helped push crime down but has recently vowed to get high response times down.

The move also comes as police have lost an undisclosed number of officers assigned to work the State Fair.

The importance of crime hot spots — known internally as TAAG areas — is also going away for the month. Cadena said the goal is to focus on responding to violent crimes wherever they may occur rather than on visibility and property crimes.

The emphasis on hot spot policing has previously been a major initiative of Brown and his predecessor, Chief David Kunkle.

But police are still concerned about the lower-priority calls, Cadena said.

“Some of them are very concerning types of calls, like burglary,” he said. “Burglaries can be just as traumatic.”

Cadena said officials will re-evaluate at the end of the month.

Officials are also stressing to officers that they should not pursue suspicious people or make traffic stops while top priority calls are waiting.

Cadena said commanders are also asking police officers to manually note when they arrive at a scene. He said some cops’ computers have occasionally failed to automatically show the officer at the scene even after they get there within minutes.