This is a problem the I-Team first raised in May when we showed you the numbers. Many police departments in North Texas are taking longer to reach people in extreme emergencies where lives may be at risk.
Presenting slides and statistics to the Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee, Chief David brown tried to stay positive about the overall crime rate, but he said murder and violent crime is up. He also said officers are taking longer to respond to 9-1-1 calls.
“The goal from priority three’s is 30 minutes,” says Brown.
But today, it takes about twice that long, an hour, for an officer to respond to a priority three call—a drug house, gun fire, burglary or prostitution.
“Those are some of the calls we continue to receive from Dallas citizens and they want improvements on those.”
If you dial 9-1-1 about a disturbance, speeding, theft or panhandling, those are priority four calls. He says expect about an hour and a half wait.
It’s exactly what Ron Pinkston, President of the Dallas Police Association, told the I-Team back in May when we first reported slower police response times across North Texas.
“I think it’s jeopardizing the safety of the citizens by cutting back on the amount of officers that you have,” said Pinkston in May 2015.
At the time, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said crime was down so he did not have a problem with fewer officers. In today’s meeting, council members said the need for more officers is up for discussion, but they need more information.
“We’re going to need to have those tough budget discussions on that. Our challenge is to decrease crime and keep low police response times and good community relationships,” said Chief Brown.
For now, the Chief says he is addressing the issue by moving officers off special assignments and onto the streets and by spending a lot of money on overtime.
Dallas police officers tell the I-team another reason for a personnel shortage is they are being lured away to other cities—Fort Worth, Plano and Grand Prairie– which pay more.