South Central Dallas Logs Alarming Police Response Times

Police car on the street close up. | Image by Fedorovekb/Shutterstock

The substantial staffing shortage in the Dallas Police Department has led to alarming police response times, especially within the jurisdiction of the department’s South Central Patrol Division.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, DPD currently maintains a force numbering roughly 3,100 sworn personnel. However, a City report previously advised that Dallas needs around three officers for every 1,000 residents, putting an effective staffing level at around 4,000 officers.

“Effective sworn staffing levels means having enough officers to respond to [P1] calls within the goal of 8 minutes,” the report reads.

Calls to the police are assigned a priority designation (1-4) based on the seriousness of the situation, with P1 calls signifying extreme emergencies, like an active shooter or a major freeway accident with multiple injuries. P4 calls are at the lower end of the spectrum, representing “non-critical” incidents.

As of September 1, it has been taking police 13.8 minutes on average to respond to P1 calls within DPD’s South Central Patrol Division, which “extends roughly from State Highway 67 on the west to just beyond I-45 on the east. The northern boundary is at the Trinity River and the southern border meets the cities of Lancaster and Desoto.”

There have been 4,276 P1 calls for service there since the beginning of the year. Only about 38% of those calls logged a response time of 8 minutes or less, according to the City of Dallas Open Data police response time dashboard.

P2 calls saw even worse response times, with it taking 134.7 minutes on average for police to respond. P2 calls include robbery offenses, street racing, and requests for assistance by Dallas Fire-Rescue.

For P3 calls, it has been taking DPD about 398.6 minutes to respond, with a call about random gunfire in the area yielding an average response time of 258.2 minutes.

In a previous interview with The Dallas Express, DPD Chief Eddie Garcia said the department hired 200 officers last year but lost almost 240 to resignations, retirements, and dismissals.

“We have to make sure that we look at both ends — on the recruiting perspective and the retention. The reality of it is … I can have a class of 50 people that start Academy today, but we’re not going to recognize their efficiency and their effectiveness for a year and a half after the Academy and training and everything else. So equally as important, if not more so, is the retention of men and women,” Garcia said.

The police shortage has also been felt in Downtown Dallas, which regularly logs higher crime rates than Fort Worth’s downtown area. The latter is reportedly patrolled by a special neighborhood police unit that works alongside private security officers.

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