As Dallas City Council approaches their Wednesday vote on whether or not to raid $7 million of taxpayers’ money from the police overtime fund to spend on other government programs, citizens are planning three rallies to show support for the police and hold city council members accountable.

During a marathon budget session on September 2, a majority of city council voted to raid $7 million from the Dallas police overtime budget, and $1.5 million from the firefighters’ overtime budget, to spend on other government programs. These motions to amend the budget were made by Councilmember Adam Bazaldua, despite the Dallas budget projecting declining numbers of police officers and data showing that violent crime is higher this year than last year.

Final decisions on the budget and defunding will be made by the city council on September 23, and citizens have planned rallies to hold these elected officials accountable.

The first is by Keep Dallas Safe, to be held on October 2 at 7 p.m. in front of Dallas City Hall. Another is the Dallas March for America, to be held on October 17 at 10:30 a.m. in downtown Dallas. The organizer of the latter is Carlos Turcios, who organized Fort Worth’s Back the Blue rally this summer.

The Texas Republican Party recently announced their own “Back the Blue” rally to be held in front of Dallas City Hall on Tuesday, September 22, at 3 p.m.

“This is an irresponsible and short-sighted move that will put Dallas residents and businesses at risk,” Amy Gibson, spokesperson for Keep Dallas Safe, told Texas Scorecard about the $7 million raid. “Especially as we get closer to the election and political tensions heat up, we are concerned about more unrest in our city.”

“A lot of Dallas police officers are overwhelmed and low in morale,” Turcios said. “Crime is up in Dallas, and the City Council decides to side with the radical Defund the Police group. I just don’t get it.”

Councilman Chad West, who voted in favor of the amendment, told Texas Scorecard he wants to motivate management to stop using overtime so often. “There’s a need for overtime, but it is something that is abused,” West told the council previously. “There’s no checks and balances for overtime.”

Gibson disagrees. “If there is abuse of overtime, why not take action against the specific ways that the system is being abused?” she asked. “We have no objection with specific policy changes aimed at reducing abuse of overtime policies. But cutting the overtime budget is NOT the way.”

“I think [Gibson] probably wishes he didn’t use [the word] ‘abuse,’ because abuse, to me, means possibly illegal activity,” Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, told Texas Scorecard. “I think we need to be more efficient. Anybody who says they can’t be more efficient is kidding themselves.”

“I’ve spoken with Councilmember West, and he sees my point,” Mata added. “The problem here is we are now having to address protests that I think we’re now over 100 days of having protests in the last months. And then, other than that, we have every special crime initiative, and we have every special project that the council wants, because crime dictates that these special projects and these crime initiatives happen.”

Mata believes some form of the cut to overtime will pass on Wednesday.

This raid of overtime may be a meaningless offering to the left as council may fill the gap in the overtime budget by drawing on the city’s reserve fund. “If we do reduce overtime, we’ll still find ways to pay it,” Councilman Tennell Atkins said to council.

“We don’t trust promises from politicians,” Gibson said. “Moreover, it is critical the funds are there now to prevent any administrative lag in addressing unrest in the streets.”

“Dallas citizens should call their city council member—and for that matter, all of the city council members—and tell them to take a stand against the ‘defund the police’ efforts and protect the overtime budget,” Gibson advises. “Don’t listen to a few activists, listen to the vast majority of the people of Dallas who want a safe community to raise their families and build their businesses.”

The city council is scheduled to adopt the budget and tax rate on September 23.

Concerned voters may contact the Dallas City Council and Mayor Johnson.

Lee Kleinman: sophia.figueroa@dallascityhall.com214-670-7817
Adam Medrano: adam.medrano@dallascityhall.com214-670-4048
Tennell Atkins: maria.salazar2@dallascityhall.com214-670-4066
Adam Bazaldua: Yesenia.Valdez@dallascityhall.com214-670-4689
David Blewett: david.blewett@dallascityhall.com214-670-5415
Adam McGough: adam.mcgough@dallascityhall.com214-670-4068
Chad West: Chad.West@dallascityhall.com214-670-0776
Casey Thomas: richard.soto@dallascityhall.com214-670-0777
Carolyn King Arnold: District4@DallasCityHall.com214-670-0781
Jaime Resendez: jaime.resendez@dallascityhall.com214-670-4052
Tennell Atkins: maria.salazar2@dallascityhall.com214-670-4066
Paula Blackmon: District9@DallasCityHall.com214-670-4069
Adam McGough: adam.mcgough@dallascityhall.com214-670-4068
Cara Mendelsohn: cara.mendelsohn@dallascityhall.com214-670-4067
David Blewett: david.blewett@dallascityhall.com214-670-5415
Jennifer Gates: jennifer.gates@dallascityhall.com214-670-7057

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.