Hospitality industry executive Monty Bennett, publisher of The Dallas Express, discussed the far-reaching repercussions of crime in an interview on The Dallas Express Podcast on Sunday.
The latest episode of the podcast, hosted by Dallas Express co-founder Sarah Zubiate-Bennett, saw Bennett expound on how crime, when left unchecked, can have a multiplier effect in terms of a city’s available jobs, property values, and reputation.
“Crime is a value destroyer,” Bennett said, explaining how high crime rates are driving away businesses that would otherwise look to set up shop in some of the country’s urban centers.
While commending Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and Police Chief Eddie Garcia for their efforts, Bennett noted that overall crime has hardly ticked down in recent years. As previously reported by The Dallas Express, murder has been on the rise, even as other categories of violent crime have dropped. Additionally, record-breaking motor vehicle theft rates — especially in Downtown Dallas — have offset the reduction in violent crime in terms of individual incidents.
Bennett discussed the matter of available police resources at the Dallas Police Department, which has been fielding fewer than 3,200 officers. A City analysis advised that a jurisdiction the size of Dallas should have roughly 4,000 officers on staff, about three for every 1,000 residents.
“The police need more resources, and with those resources … we need to keep up the good training that they’re getting, and even more training if it’s needed,” Bennett said. “People don’t want more police if [they’re] going to come into a neighborhood and beat people up. And there’s been a lot of discussion about that nationally over the past few years, and our police force has made great strides in that agree, and that’s great.”
“They need to be well trained, and if there is a bad apple, we need to remove the bad apple so communities feel comfortable with the police coming in there,” he added.
Speaking to the dynamics of the police shortage in Dallas, Bennett pointed to pay rates for entry-level officers relative to other municipalities in the metroplex.
“Thankfully, we have a lot of great Dallas police officers that for one reason or another are here because it’s close to their home or they’re committed to their city, but it’s terrible that we ask these police officers to give up money they could [be] making just a short 15-minute drive to another municipality,” he said.
Out of a sampling of entry-level annual salaries for police officers this fiscal year, DPD falls on the lower end of the scale:
“We have to pay market or better,” Bennett said, claiming that a boost in pay would attract law enforcement professionals and people looking to serve their communities in Dallas.
“You will find that if we raise our pay for our police officers in the city to the top, say quartile, of police forces in the metroplex, our staffing problem will go away just like magic,” he said.
Bennett went on to discuss The Dallas Express‘ Crime Boss feature and the pros and cons of a weak-mayor municipal system. Check out the entire interview at The Dallas Express Podcast.