The Dallas Police Department (DPD) will experience a 25 percent cut to its overtime budget after a decision by the city council last week, and as of today will also weather the loss of its leader, Chief Renee Hall, after she announced she will be leaving her post on November 10.
Though Hall did not state the reason for her resignation, the decision comes after she faced criticism for her handling of demonstrators over the summer as well as an increasing murder rate in Dallas.
Hall offered her resignation in a letter she sent to City Manager T.C. Broadnax.
“I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve the residents of Dallas. We have accomplished so much by standing together in support of community policing and changes in the way our officers perform their duties in 2020. It has not been easy,” Hall wrote.
“I am proud that this department has not only coped with an unthinkable series of events, but we have also managed to implement critical reforms that were clearly needed for the Dallas Police Department to meet our 21st-century policing goals.”
The resignation also comes days after city council members amended the city’s proposed budget to defund $7 million from the Dallas Police Department’s (DPD) overtime appropriations, which is a 25 percent cut.
Councilman Adam Bazaldua made the motion to add the amendment as the city council was considering the draft budget while sitting as a committee of the whole.
“I believe that it speaks volumes that we are willing to continue to invest $25 [million or] $30 million in overtime while having a thousand uniformed officers sitting behind a desk…” Bazaldua said.
“[W]e pay uniformed officers more than the civilian positions and we’re going to continue to perpetuate a vicious cycle that is almost going to be impossible to break unless we actually make a bold decision.”
Bazaldua emphasized that the funding would be diverted to other programs, such as non-uniformed positions.
Councilman Chad West contended that the overtime program is sometimes abused and that “management should take a hard look” at whether overtime requests are appropriate.Hall emphasized the importance of the overtime program.
The police chief explained to the council that there has been a “mass exodus” of police officers from DPD since 2016, creating a need for overtime resources.
Hall also pointed out that the department only employs 22 homicide detectives right now, compared to 50 to 60 four years ago.
“What we do not have control over is when a homicide is going to happen [or] when individuals are going to be on vacation,” Hall said.
“We cannot control what crime sprees happen and show up whether it’s a protest or civil unrest or whatever happens, we have to be able to respond to that and put the necessary resources out to curtail any crime that’s happening at that time.”
Hall indicated that $26.5 million was appropriated to DPD for overtime, but the department has spent $31 million, due to a severe tornado that hit Dallas in October of last year, COVID-19, and the civil unrest the city experienced this year.
She underscored that 53 percent of overtime hours are due to “late relief,” which occurs when officers receive calls that require them to stay beyond their scheduled shifts.
Hall rebutted the claim that the overtime program lacks oversight, saying that there is a biweekly overtime report and that all requests must be approved by a supervisor.
CBS News ranked Dallas the 49th deadliest U.S. city in 2018, with a murder rate of 11.4 murders per 100,000 residents.
Last year was worse. In 2019, at least 200 people were murdered in Dallas, marking the highest number of homicides the city has seen in more than a decade, a record that could potentially be broken again this year.
Council members Cara Mendelsohn, Adam McGough, and Jennifer Gates stated their opposition to the amendment.
Gates expressed concern about failing to grant the amount of overtime funding DPD has requested.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen if the police don’t have the capacity to be able to provide the public safety service that we’ve requested of them,” Gates said.
“If this city manager and the chief of police are telling us this is the overtime that they need budgeted this year with the amount of officers we have, I’m not the expert in this field so I don’t want to be telling them that’s not available.”
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.
Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.