Investigations into incidents involving city equipment and personnel since fiscal year 2019 have found that more than 4,000 were preventable, according to a memo from Dallas CFO Jack Ireland.

The two-page document summarizes the process the Office of Risk Management uses to probe such incidents (including accidents), how employees are disciplined, and the employee’s right to appeal. Ireland wrote the memo in response to Dallas City Council member Paul Ridley’s comments during a council meeting on June 12 about proper driver training.

“I just want to point out that we have six items on our consent agenda … having to do with settlements or payments of lawsuit, jury verdicts, against the city,” he said. “I’m concerned about the number and the size of these cases, and I call upon the city manager to review our policies and procedures with regard to driver training and driver repercussions to cause accidents. We need to get a handle on this. It’s getting out of control.”

Council members on June 12 approved $739,500 in settlements or jury verdicts for accidents reported between 2019 and 2022 involving employees with Animal Services, Dallas Police Department, Dallas Water Utilities, Department of Sanitation Services, and Dallas Fire-Rescue.

In his memo, Ireland explained what happens following incidents involving city equipment:

After the Investigations Division of the Office of Risk Management has completed an independent investigation, an ORM safety specialist reviews the incident file.

The safety specialist makes a recommendation about preventability to the Incident Review Committee or the Emergency Services Incident Review Committee, which only reviews incidents that involve DPD and DFR employees.

The IRC or ESIRC votes on preventability. If an incident is determined preventable, points are assessed based on the incident points classification table.

A letter is sent to the employee and the employee’s supervisor advising of the point assessment and the right to appeal within 10 days of the letter date.

The respective department administers corrective action, ranging from “verbal counseling” to 10-day suspensions.

Between 2019 and 2023, “the City has averaged a 14.5% decrease in incident activity,” from 831 to 709, according to the memo. So far, in FY2024, 425 incidents have been processed by the IRC and “deemed preventable.”

WFAA reported the City of Dallas has approved the payout of more than $1 million in settlements and judgments this year following incidents involving its own equipment and personnel.