With the Dallas Police Department working to make up for a shortage of police officers, Chief Renee Hall told city council members on Monday about some new strategies to fill jobs.
Chief Hall is looking at everything from rewarding officers who recruit candidates to eliminating some of the automatic disqualifiers, like minor drug use from someone's past.
Both the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Fire-Rescue are struggling to find people who want to protect and serve. Both chiefs told city council members that recruiting millennials has posed as a challenge.
"We have nights, weekends and holidays — not attractive to millennials who want all days off and to be the chief in six months,” Chief Hall said. “We recognize that is a challenge."
"The other challenge — they're job hopping every five years,” added Dallas Fire Chief David Coatney.
Both chiefs said they're also challenged with starting pay that is lower than neighboring cities.
Chief Hall, who is faced with a four percent increase in violent crime year-to-year, needs to hire 250 cops this fiscal year. She said she's behind schedule. To catch up, she's come up with some new ideas.
In January, Chief Hall will roll out a program that will give a total of four to six days off for officers that recruit someone who is hired and graduates from the academy. She plans to start recruiting Dallas ISD students and hiring them as public service officers until they can be peace officers at age 19-and-a-half. She says it is within her power as chief to hire applicants who would currently not qualify because they admit to infractions like minor drug use.
"We recognize that when you're 17 and you do something silly or stupid, you're a different person when you're 24,” she said.
The Dallas Police Association hopes something works soon.
"Crime is still rising,” said DPA President Mike Mata. “We have to do what we can to bring those numbers down."
Chief Coatney, whose department has run out of ambulances on occasion this year, said he’s working to shorten his department's long application process.
"We've changed our entire hiring process,” he said. “Now, we have an open hiring period. People can apply at any time."
To work on better retention of officers, Chief Hall plans to start a pilot program to let officers who live in Dallas take home their patrol cars.