The Dallas Police Department has struggled over the last few years to retain officers and reach adequate staffing levels. That’s why it’s working to roll out a new incentive to keep officers on the job for an extra two years.
DPD is calling it the 30-year retention incentive. An officer who completes 30 years on the job will be eligible for a $40,000 payout.
For years, the city has tried to reach staffing levels of 3,600–4,000 officers. Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, told the Observer in January that the department is 400–500 officers short. There are efforts to hire more people and train them faster, but Mata said the department also has to focus on retention.
“If we could put in policies that would help retention of those senior officers to stay three to maybe five more years than they had planned to, that would help us in that five-year plan of catching up in hiring,” Mata said. “You’ve got to stop the bleeding.” The incentive could help do that.
On average, officers stay at DPD for 28 years. The department is trying to extend that to 30. Any full-time officer with at least 28 years of sworn service with the department can apply for the incentive. Officers with 28 years or more of service will need to work an additional two years as a sworn full-time, active duty officer to be eligible for the one-time $40,000 payment.
“You’ve got to stop the bleeding.” – Mike Mata, Dallas Police Association
During those two years, officers will have to work 3,556 hours, which is the equivalent of 444 work days. If they don’t reach that number of hours by the end of the two years, even if their leave has been approved, they will have to continue working until they do. The only exception is if unavoidable or extraordinary circumstances kept an officer from completing the hours. Even then, the decision to grant the incentive despite these circumstances will be left to police Chief Eddie Garcia.
To get the incentive, an officer must not be on paid administrative leave pending an investigation or fitness for duty evaluation for more than 10 days during the two-year period. An officer on paid administrative leave for more than 10 days can still earn the incentive by remaining employed for the full 24 months. This doesn’t include the days spent on administrative leave.
To remain eligible, officers also can’t receive any formal discipline, like termination, demotion or a suspension of more than five days. If an officer is disciplined but that disciplinary action is reduced or reversed, the chief of police can choose to make restore eligibility for the program.
The city’s Public Safety Committee will discuss the incentive at its meeting today with a view of implementing it some time this month.