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Let’s examine the Dallas Police Department’s budget. A thread.
First of all, 60% of the City’s General Fund currently goes to “Public Safety” which overwhelming goes to the police. In the city’s own community surveys, people generally say they want that budget cut in half. But what, specifically, to cut first? Well...
In the 2019-20 budget, the police department received $516 million. Almost all of that ($448M) went to “Personnel Services” which is officer pay, benefits, overtime, pension, etc.
Those benefits are structured by the police union contract, automatically increasing officer pay and benefits over time. Just the “adjustments” to officer pay alone in the current contract cost $36M. The contract doesn’t expire until 2022.
So cutting pay, benefits, OT, etc has to be part of this - though in some places that could take time and contract re-negotiations. Firing/laying off officers can work more quickly to cut the budget. But who to cut first?
Most immediately, the defunding of the Narcotics and the Vice divisions would cut about $20M. This could also lead to a reduction in arrests for drugs and other low-level offenses. Win-win.
Sidenote: the city lists the number of Narcotics arrests as a “performance measure” in its budget. In previous years they planned increases in drug arrests though now they seem to be “budgeting” for a smaller drug arrest quota.
Next, the city confiscates (steals) $7M in “revenue” each year from residents in fines and forfeitures. Ending civil asset forfeiture and other exploitative practices could cut the amount going to the police budget.
We’re still only at a fraction of the budget. More cuts should be made by firing officers with the biggest records of misconduct. Luckily, Dallas police union contract doesn’t require layoffs to be in order of seniority (some cities do). So this is doable.…
How do we identify those officers? Police misconduct records aren’t public in Texas. They do post their use of force data with badge numbers, but it’s only as recent as 2016:…
According to their 2016 use of force data, there were 2,383 use of force incidents and about 3,300 officers employed. So less than one incident per year for the average officer. Now look how many incidents these officers (by badge number) used that year.
We’d want the 2017-2020 data (both use of force and other misconduct) to determine which officers should be laid off first. The dept has the data to identify them. Removing the top 10-30% with the worst records could cut the budget and maximize impact on reducing police violence.
Altogether, this could cut the budget by maybe $100-200M. Still not half of the $516M budget. From there it’s going to get more difficult but cuts will still need to be made. Only a small proportion of the remaining money is equipment, weapons, etc.
Cutting low level arrests substantially and laying off more officers would further defund the police. 23% of arrests by Dallas police are for “crimes against people” and 8% are property crimes. The vast majority of arrests are low-level, non-violent.…
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