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Number of Dallas police officers at lowest level in a decade

DALLAS (AP) — The number of police officers serving Dallas has fallen to its lowest level in about a decade while the department also is falling short of its goal for new hires, the interim police chief told a city council committee.

Chief David Pughes said Monday that the number of officers on the force is 3,077. That’s down from nearly 3,700 officers some six years ago.

He said the department will be short-staffed as the summer approaches and crime generally increases.

Concerns over the failing Dallas Police and Fire Pension System have led many officers to retire at a rate faster than the department can hire and train new ones, The Dallas Morning News reports (http://bit.ly/2pe6wpf ).

Dallas so far this year has lost 244 officers, many of whom had more than 20 years of experience. Officials believe another 120 will leave by the end of September.

Pughes said he’s considering hiring many of those retired officers to temporarily bolster patrol numbers.

“I’m actually excited about the possibility of bringing retirees back in whatever capacity they can work,” Pughes said.

The move could be a short-term remedy in the face of fewer new hires than hoped. The department so far this year has hired just 80 officers and expects to add about 200 by year’s end, far below a target of around 450, the newspaper reported.

The hiring rate is surprising in light of a surfeit of applications in the wake of the July sniper shootings during a downtown protest where five officers were killed and nine others wounded. The department said job applications more than quadrupled in the two weeks following the shootings.

David Brown, who was police chief before retiring in October, at the time had urged those protesting police actions to help change law enforcement from within by applying to become a cop.

Despite the rise in applications, a rigorous hiring and training process results in many applicants being dropped from consideration.

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Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

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