Taydren Young’s son was seven months old when his father was shot in North Dallas earlier this year. Maria Arteaga-Manuel left behind 22 grandchildren after being killed in her Dallas apartment this month. These are just two of the 60 people who have been murdered so far this year, giving Dallas a murder rate 47 percent higher than last year. Assault and robbery rates also rose.
These people died because they were in the city of Dallas at the wrong moment. These are 60 mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sons and daughters who are not going home to their families because our police department is broken with too few officers on the street.
To be clear, we have the finest officers in America. These are men and women who proudly wear the badge. Unfortunately, we don’t have nearly enough police officers to adequately protect the public or each other.
The Dallas Police Association has been vocal that our city needs more police. Our city leadership and the current and future city managers must be held accountable and do what is necessary to safeguard our neighborhoods, schools and businesses. This starts with developing smarter crime fighting policies, adopting a competitive compensation and benefits plan to attract quality recruits, and retaining seasoned officers to commit their careers to our city.
There is no path to better public safety that avoids addressing compensation issues. Compensation concerns are causing police recruits and young officers to go elsewhere. The compensation issue is also causing veteran officers with valuable expertise to retire in alarming numbers.
This year, the DPD has lost 124 officers to surrounding cities like Fort Worth, Mesquite, Plano and Grand Prairie. A rookie can make $8,500 more in his or her first year by moving to Ft. Worth, and enjoy a lower cost of living. A senior officer could make more than $10,000 more and retire with a better pension.
Dallas leaders are working hard to grow our economy and move families back into the city. But with the increase in violent crime and the lack of staffing due to retention and recruiting, Dallas cannot keep businesses and families safe. Ultimately, the negative impact on our tax base will far exceed what it would take for City Hall to add more officers and more appropriately compensate the entire department.
For three years the Dallas Police Association has warned about our growing crime problem, while urging the mayor, council and city manager to take action. As we head into the summer months, which typically see an increase in violent crime, we urge city leaders to finally do the right thing. I do not want to write this same column in another three years after even more loved ones have been taken from their families.
There are solutions, and we are united with the citizens of Dallas in waiting for our leaders to act on them. Together we must adopt a revised compensation and benefit package that will enable our city to attract and retain Dallas police officers.
Ron Pinkston is president of the Dallas Police Association. Twitter: @badge5591