A private donation has paid $189,000 for 400 cell phones for Dallas detectives, says the Dallas Morning News. The phones are the first equipment purchase from a three-year, $15 million public safety grant to the Dallas Police Department by the W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas. The grant is believed to be the largest private grant ever made to a police department. The resource-strapped department has already received $5 million to fill a variety of equipment needs, including cages to be placed between officers and suspects in squad cars, and cameras in cars. A consultant will help the department determine how best to spend the remaining $10 million.
This year’s city budget provides an additional $30 million for public safety, including money for three helicopters and more squad cars, and the addition of 50 police officers. Officials hope the donation will mark a turning point for Dallas, which for the last seven years has had the highest crime rate among cities with more than 1 million residents. Internal and external reviews have demonstrated that the department is burdened with aging and inadequate equipment and a lack of staffing. Those reports blamed years of tight budgets, poor leadership, and bad hiring practices for a variety of ills, including high crime and a frustrated community as well as low morale and poorly equipped officers. Before now, many detectives paid for their own cellphones to use while working.