Dallas police leaders told city council members that they are working to combat a large rise in business robberies.
New numbers show business robberies are up 23 percent compared with last year at this time. The Dallas Police Association is blaming the increase on the shortage of police officers.
Police and fire leaders are bracing for dozens of the city’s most experienced police officers and firefighters to retire in January, just before a big change to their pension benefits will take effect.
Just one week ago, a mother of six was shot and killed during an armed robbery at a convenience store. With the outrage of that murder still on their minds, Dallas police revealed that armed robberies at businesses are up sharply.
This year, there have been 659 businesses in Dallas that have been robbed. It was an increase from 536 robberies last year.
“So are we putting special concentration on those types of stores?” asked Dallas City Councilmember Dwaine Caraway.
“Absolutely,” said DPD Assistant Chief Paul Stokes. “So what we have done — about a month ago, we saw 7-Elevens were being robbed quite frequently. So Chief Hall made the suggestion that we would go to 7-Elevens and have a signup sheet that would encourage officers to get out of their car, go visit with those folks and actually sign in. But as we can see, those robberies occurred at other convenience stores.”
The assistant police chief says the department is working to make sure convenience store surveillance cameras are working.
In September, the number of robberies went up 76 percent compared to a year ago.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata says Dallas needs more police officers.
“It all comes back to hiring and retention,” he said. “If we’re not doing that, it has a huge snowball effect to the community.”
It’s why the anticipated rash of January retirements is even more concerning.
“We have to address the elephant in the room,” Mata said. “We’re going to lose more manpower.”
Fire Chief David Coatney is also preparing for a number of firefighters to retire. To retain firefighters, he says the city needs to address pay disparities.
“We are the largest city in the metroplex,” he said. “And our firefighters make some of the lowest salaries in the metroplex.”
The fire department estimates they will lose 85 firefighters when the pension changes take effect at the end of January. Coatney says he is not worried about delayed response times just yet.