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Dallas Police To Get Approximately $7M More Next Year Despite Cut In Overtime

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM)  - The Dallas Police Department budget will increase next year despite a cut in its  overtime budget.

On Thursday, a city of Dallas spokeswoman said administrators were still calculating the changes made by council members Wednesday night to the Dallas Police Department's overall budget, and that the final numbers would be released Friday morning.

But based on numbers previously published by the city on its website and based on discussions from council members Wednesday night, the city will spend about $7 million more on police in the next year fiscal year that begins October 1, totaling around $561 million.

That figure comes even after council members by a margin of 11-4 voted to cut $7 million from DPD's nearly $28 million overtime budget, which includes both sworn officers and civilian employees.

As part of that cut to overtime, the council members placed $3.85 million of that back into DPD, so the department could hire 95 additional civilians, which would allow 95 sworn officers to work in patrol and other functions in DPD.

Earlier this month, council members approved spending an additional $300,000 for officer training.

Council members also agreed to spend an extra $3.2 million on crime prevention programs, even though they are not an official part of the police department's budget.

Council member Adam Bazaldua, who proposed the overtime reduction along with Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano, and council members David Blewett, Paula Blackmon, Chad West, Tennell Atkins and Omar Narvaez, changed where the overtime money would go.

Before deciding to put it all toward public safety-related projects, more than $4.3 million would have been spent on non-public safety related programs, including bike lanes, the Bishop Arts Theater and street repairs.

While police officers will receive step increases in next year's budget, what's not funded is market rate salary increases for officers, approved by council members last year, designed to keep DPD competitive with other area departments.

That amounts to $3.37 million.

The city said it's expecting to have 55 fewer officers next year because of attrition and limits to the number of recruits it can hire because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporters of the move to cut overtime though say they believe there will be a net of 55 more officers back out on the street.

That will depend how quickly the department can hire 95 civilians.

On Wednesday night, Chief Renee Hall insisted the department has not mismanaged its overtime budget, especially when people consider a tornado ripped a destructive path through the city, and that the department has had to staff protests, and respond to street unrest, street-racing, and an increase in violent crime.

As of Monday, the city had 167 murders year to date, which is six more than the city had through the same time period last year, which saw a record number of murders for the decade.

Non-family violence related aggravated assaults have increased nearly 28% this year, on top of last year's increases.

Despite the cut in police overtime funding, DPD Chief Renee Hall has repeatedly said, officers will continue to protect and serve, and that if the department needs more money for overtime, they will return to the council and request it.

The money would likely come from the city's reserves.

The debate over police overtime attracted dozens of people to Wednesday's virtual council meeting.

Seventy-one people signed up to speak about the budget, and most wanted the city to make large cuts to DPD's budget, including amounts as high as $200 million.

None of the council members proposed that.

Mayor Eric Johnson said the city received letters and emails from thousands of people who supported police and wanted public safety to be increased.

Five former council members, Governor Greg Abbott and area Republican leaders have also criticized the council's decision to cut DPD's overtime budget.

The police department's overall budget is part of the city's $1.4 billion general fund budget.

In what was the closes vote in a decade, council members approved the $4 billion total budget by a margin of 9-6.

Council members lowered the property tax rate from 77.66 cents per $100 valuation this year to 77.63 cents next year.

But because that is not enough to cover the rise in property values, many residents will still be paying more in property taxes next year.

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