Former Dallas police chiefs warn in a letter that the police department is in crisis because of the failing police and fire pension system.
The letter, released Wednesday, calls out city leaders for “pointing fingers” instead of focusing on “consequences of ill-conceived proposed solutions.”
The pension is expected to reach insolvency within the next decade.
The letter — signed by retired police chiefs, assistant chiefs and deputy chiefs that are pension members — echoes other complaints retirees have lobbed at the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System. The letter isn’t addressed to a specific person or organization, though it was released days after Mayor Mike Rawlings denounced a bill before state legislators that would take control of the pension fund away from the city.
Signees of the letter include former Dallas Police Chief Ben Click and current Dallas ISD Police Chief Craig Miller, who was a deputy chief in the Dallas Police Department.
The chiefs’ letter cites low pay and the pension system as reasons why officers are leaving the police department and finding other jobs. It’s a trend that has worsened in the past two years.
Nearly 160 officers left the department between October 2016 and January 2017. Of those, 106 retired. The police associations say the retirements have spiked in part because of the uncertainty surrounding the pension system.
And the department isn’t hiring officers at a quick enough pace to replace those leaving.
The department currently has about 3,210 officers, well below the desired 3,600.
The officials running the department have acknowledged high attrition but have said the city isn’t facing a public safety crisis.
Interim Dallas Police Chief David Pughes told the city council’s public safety committee last week that the department is trying to be efficient with the number of officers it has. It plans to offer overtime over the summer, which tends to be busy.
“Right now we’re hanging on and we’re managing,” Pughes said. He said 3,200 officers is about as low as he wants to go.
“We don’t need to lose anymore,” he said. “As long as we stay over 3,000 I think we’ll be OK.”
Read the retired chiefs’ full letter here: