Dallas approves largest police budget ever, defying ‘defund’ movement activists and politicians

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DALLAS, TX – Dallas City Council just approved its largest police budget ever joining the parade of major cities moving to restore funding to police department budgets as the defund movement succumbs to increasing crime and violence in America’ streets.

Last year, riots and protests broke out following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the knee of Derek Chauvin. Activists called for police reform and left-wing politicians responded with massive cuts to police budgets in major cities across America.

Since then, violent crime rates have soared, and record homicide numbers have plagued many cities across the country.

Caught up in the fervor of the “Defund Movement,” Dallas Police Department had its overtime budget cut by $7 million by the City Council. The cut was mild compared to some other Texas cities like Austin, where  $21.5 million cut from its police budget and another $128 million shifted from the department to others in the city.

Dallas council members approved their largest-ever budget Wednesday, aided this year by federal money that will not be available in coming years, and it restored funds that the City Council had removed from the Dallas Police Department’s overtime budget last fall. Overall, the $4.35 billion budget comes in at $500 million more than the previous year.

The final vote after months of community budget meetings and city hall debate was 13 to 2, with members Cara Mendelsohn and Gay Donnell Willis opposed over concerns about rising property taxes.

After a lengthy budget debate, city council members restored a $10 million cut in police overtime money they approved just two weeks ago.

In early September, there was a push to remove $10 million from the police overtime, doubling last year’s cut. But ultimately, the increase erased the cut.

The budget is assisted with monies from the COVID-19 relief funds released by the federal government. These are one-time funds and are not likely to be renewed.

In comments before the passage of the budget, Sara Mokuria, co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, addressed the crowd to attack the police, saying they brought violence with them:

“Their intervention to violence is more violence. This budget is an investment in violence.

DPD has consistently (proven overtime) to be an ineffective intervention in creating a safe public. More money into an unaccountable police force will cause more violence.”

However, the city council disagreed and passed the budget. The Mayor, Eric Johnson, praised the increase for “putting public safety first”:

“Today, we put public safety first. I thank my colleagues for supporting my amendment and for backing our efforts to make our city safer.

“While no budget is perfect, we are providing the resources that our police chief needs to be successful while also supporting community-based initiatives that can help reduce crime and strengthen our neighborhoods.”

Following an audit that showed the Dallas Police Department did not abuse or waste overtime funds in the past, the Mayor had vowed to restore the police budget. He kept that promise with this vote:

“For the time being, the police overtime budget is our backstop against rising violence in our city. Chief (Eddie) García requested this funding to help supplement his efforts, and I don’t think we should make him jump through hoops to get this money that he’s telling us that we’re absolutely going to need.”

Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, said police morale will receive a much-needed boost from the budget increase:

“’Defund the police’ rhetoric last summer ‘really wore down on the psyche of officers.’ Restoring overtime funds  will increase officer morale because they feel like the city is backing them.”

Some of the funds will go toward hiring 250 more police officers, but Police Chief Eddie Garcia said hiring officers was not the complete fix the department needs:

“Even if I could snap my fingers and say, ‘Give me 500 officers,’ I can’t handle 500 officers today. I can’t train them in the academy, I can’t train them out in the field, and I don’t have the supervision once they’re eligible to be a solo duty officer … That’s why we need to grow incrementally.”

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Massively defunded Austin Police officers to stop responding to non-emergency calls

September 24, 2021

 

 AUSTIN, TX – With a staffing crisis adversely affecting the Austin Police Department, and also being one year removed from the city council’s vote to defund the police budget by up to $150 million, officials have announced that sworn police officers will no longer be responding to non-emergency calls.

However, not all non-emergency calls will be devoid of some sort of physical response, as Austin Police officials have confirmed that certain calls may result in civilian police employees being dispatched – such as crime scene technicians for evidence collection purposes.

Starting in October, those reporting non-emergencies in Austin can expect to not see a sworn Austin Police officer responding.

Such instances would be reported burglaries that are not actively in progress and/or the suspect has left, and vehicular collisions not resulting in injury.

In these instances, and others like them, instead of Austin residents calling 911, they’re being directed to call 311 to file a non-emergency report.

An Austin Police spokesperson told Fox News that the department “regularly reviews response policies and procedures to ensure APD prioritizes calls with an immediate threat to life or property over non-emergency calls for service.”

The spokesperson named the aspects that influenced the decision on call prioritization for sworn officers:

“As a result of a recent review of APD’s patrol COVID mitigation protocols initiated in May 2020, recent staffing challenges and aligning with the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force patrol response recommendations, APD will change call routing and response for non-emergency calls for service effective October 1, 2021.”

Staffing issues have been long running with the Austin Police department, according to Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday. He stated that it has been nearly two years since Austin Police has had a police academy and there simply aren’t enough officers to respond to these non-emergency calls:

“Probably about 95% of the time our shifts don’t meet minimum staffing…and that is the reason they’ve started cutting back on what types of calls are answered.

It’s not optimal. It’s not providing a quality service to the community. But the community also needs to understand that we’re under a dire staffing crisis.”

Back in August of 2020, the Austin City Council voted to cut the police budget by up to $150 million – a figure that represented over a third of the Austin Police budget – opting to reinvest that money into other public services.

The department has since been somewhat refunded after last year’s cuts, but that refunding has yet to kick in and not every unit cut has been reestablished.

Austin Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly laid blame to “the previous council’s disastrous actions to reimagine public safety,” with respect to the active staffing crisis impacting the Austin Police Department:

“The officers today are overworked and continue to be short-staffed which leads to increased response times across the city. We need to add additional funding to immediately correct this failure for the safety of our city.”

Charles Wilkison, who serves as the Executive Director of Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, mirrored the sentiments Councilmember Kelly, noting that if more funding isn’t directed to the police budget, the staffing crisis will continue to grow:

“The whimsical reimagining of the police department has normalized violence and murder in a once safe and admired city.” 

 

 

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