As homicides continue to rise in Dallas following council’s vote to cut police overtime, city council members who spearheaded the cut were defeated in an attempt to interfere in resupplying Dallas police with ammunition.
On Wednesday, Councilmember Lee Kleinman tried to stop the purchasing of tear gas and rifle rounds as part of a five-year ammunition contract for the Dallas Police Department.
“We need this approved to sustain our operations.” Dallas Police Assistant Director Ryan Rogers said of the contract.
Chief Reneé Hall told council members that “assault weapons” were used against officers about five or six times in the last six months.
Kleinman’s attempt to separate tear gas and rifle rounds from the ammunition contract was defeated 10-5, with only Councilmembers Adam Medrano, Jaime Resendez, Omar Narvaez, Bazaldua, and Kleinman voting to cut those supplies.
All of those council members were part of the coalition of 11 who voted to cut police overtime. Since the vote, reports show Dallas is set to have its highest record of murders in 16 years. While citizens have been vocal about the problem and Gov. Greg Abbott has taken action, most of the city council was silent when asked what they intend to do about the crime spike.
Mayor Eric Johnson, who strongly opposed the police overtime cut and made the restoration of law and order the centerpiece of his agenda, was among those voting against the proposal. “Our top priority, however, must be public safety,” he said in his State of the City address the day before.
During council’s debate about the ammunition contract, Narvaez asked if the city could “move all of this over to overtime pay,” to which City Manager T.C. Broadnax said yes. No council member made a motion to do so.
In response to another question from Narvaez, the Dallas Police Department said 99 percent of their ammunition is used in training, and each officer is required to fire 50 practice rounds per month. Bazaldua asked if there’d ever been an audit to find out if one round would be sufficient, rather than 50.
“He complains about lack of training but wants our police to have less access to ammunition to practice with… just wow,” citizen organization Keep Dallas Safe posted about Bazaldua’s inquiry.
“I don’t believe you can ever have enough training when it comes to a lethal round,” Chief Hall told Bazaldua.
Councilmember Chad West, a military veteran, seemed to agree.
“It took me a lot of training and even some remedial training,” he said of his time learning to use firearms in the military. “We certainly don’t want to have untrained officers out there.”
The entire ammunition contract passed 13-2, with only Bazaldua and Kleinman voting against.
A full video of the discussion can be found here. In response to the cut to police overtime, Keep Dallas Safe has issued a call to action for citizens to run for Dallas City Council, and the organization is interviewing candidates.
This article has been updated since publication.