With a $130 million city budget gap looming, the Dallas Police Department is coming under the knife, says the Dallas Morning News. On the table are proposals to cut police overtime pay by 25 percent and to stop adding to the overall size of the force. There’s also talk of furloughs or pay cuts for officers. The city’s major police associations say that if the budget outlook is so dire that the city must impose furloughs or cut salaries, then the city should quit hiring officers at all – not even replacing those who retire or resign from the 3,660-officer force – before reducing pay. “We need to take care of the people that we have now, and we can hire when the economy picks back up again,” said Senior Cpl. Michael Walton, head of the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police.
That would represent a sea change for a city that boldly added 700 officers in recent years – part of the legacy of retired Police Chief David Kunkle. City leaders have been bolstering police spending, or at least refusing to cut back on the police force, during years of increasingly tight budgets. The City Council has remained committed to reaching a decades-old goal of having three police officers for every thousand residents. Now, within striking distance of the goal at 2.8 police officers per thousand residents, the city faces the stark reality that the days of an almost untouchable public safety budget are probably over.