If you’re living in Dallas, there’s a problem occurring right under your nose that you’re not aware of unless you’ve attempted to call the police for a very serious reason recently.
RedState recently met with Officer Nick Novello, a 30 year veteran of the Dallas Police Department who relayed some very troubling news as to the state of the city’s first responders. According to Novello, so under-funded and understaffed is the city’s central Dallas police force that priority one and priority two calls — these are calls that generally involve life-threatening situations — take hours to be answered, if they go answered at all. This has turned the DPD into more of a mop-up crew than a police force according to Novello.
According to Novello, over a short amount of time, the number of calls for even the lowest trafficked channel for priority one and two calls number in the hundreds. No number was given for channels that involve more crime-ridden neighborhoods.
Novello told RedState that due to the cutbacks to the department, there are sometimes no more than four to five police officers available to respond to calls at any given time. Novello told RedState that the number should be in the high twenties for a city as large as Dallas. Not only has this created a problem for citizens who have seen elevated crime, but it’s creating problems for the officers as well who reportedly fall ill to stress-related sicknesses due to being overworked.
The reason Dallas has kept its police department so irresponsibly understaffed is because, according to Novello, it has seemingly moved much of the money that should go to first responders into land development. This is odd considering city leaders have said that public safety is the biggest part of Dallas’s budget.
However, crime continues to happen in even affluent neighborhoods. One couple was held at gunpoint, beaten, and robbed late last month by a group of teens while walking their dog just outside their townhome in Oak Cliff. Detectives warned the couple that the teens are likely to face minimal consequences for their actions.
“When you have new land development deals happening left and right while the DPD doesn’t have the wherewithal to respond to important calls, something is seriously wrong,” Novello noted to RedState.
Novello told RedState of a few instances of the lack of response time for police within central Dallas, including one instance of a woman who was assaulted waiting two hours until police could arrive due to officers answering ongoing calls.
However, if you were to ask DPD’s Chief Renee Hall, the police force has never been more responsive, and crime has fallen 22 percent in Dallas. According to Novello, however, this is due to manipulation on how calls are handled.
Novello told RedState that certain calls such as threats with a deadly weapon or threats of suicide must be answered by no less than five officers according to Dallas PD policy. To avoid making it seem like the DPD has slow response times, Novello has said that dispatch will immediately put the call into a supervising officer’s inbox within his police unit’s computer. This way it seems like the call is being handled, despite the fact that the supervising officer may be waiting anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour for enough officers to be available.
According to Novello, this happens very regularly.
Furthermore, Novello notes that the DPD’s computer systems are cumbersome and unreliable. Filing reports that should only take 20 to 30 minutes will sometimes take several hours, and the system will sometimes not file the report at all. This doesn’t help to reveal the full extent of the crime happening in Dallas.
Retired Dallas police officer Roy Messick also noted that officers were instructed to under-report crimes as well.
“Let’s say a car slams into five other cars,” Messick told RedState, “the officer making the report is told to treat that as one crime instead of the five different counts it should be.”
According to NBC-DFW, even city council members are having trouble believing the numbers.
“There’s something not connecting in what’s happening in our neighborhoods and what we are reporting,” Committee Chairman Adam McGough told Hall during a meeting on June 25.
In response, Hall told the city council that we need to work on “the perception of crime,” according to NBC-DFW.
However, clear-cut crimes seem to go unpunished as well according to Messick, including prostitution.
“When Renee Hall was made chief of the Dallas PD, one of the first things she did was get rid of the Vice unit,” Messick told RedState. “Now instead of making arrests for prostitution, the prostitutes are just given citations. It makes it look like the crimes have been dealt with, but really nothing is happening.”
“The pimps and prostitutes are all laughing at us,” he added.
Novello noted that the dissolution of the city’s Vice unit allows for far worse than prostitution.
“The doors for sex trafficking and child trafficking are wide open now,” Novello told RedState.
The fallout from the lack of police goes beyond just long wait times for officers to respond. According to Novello, property owners around Dallas are threatened with being fined for lack of security measures on their properties as crime increases, a problem created by the lack of police presence in the first place. Novello showed RedState that some property owners have responded by hiring private security who are now dealing with problems the DPD are contractually obligated to deal with in the first place.
Furthermore, Novello has told RedState that the police leaders told officers to work harder to fill in the gaps, putting heavy strain on the officers’ physical and mental health. Novello said that stress-related illnesses are not uncommon.
Novello says that the city of Dallas currently has around 2,650 officers on staff, but there should be a minimum of 3,600. According to Messick, Chief Hall arbitrarily lowered the minimum number to 3,100 to make it seem like the 1,000 missing officers from their ranks isn’t as bad as it seems.
“Truth is, with Dallas’s growth rate and current population, the minimum number of officers on staff should really be 4,500,” noted Messick.
Novello has been blowing the whistle on the lack of police for some time now, going to multiple outlets to make sure that many are aware of the problem. This includes giving testimony in front of the city council in 2017 where Novello warned members that if any situation like the kind that happened in Charlottesville, VA, were to occur in Dallas, then the police would be unable to deal with the situation effectively.
Novello wrote an open letter via DFW Mag to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings in early July to make both he and the general public aware that the current policing problem isn’t a result of lazy officers, but of bad staffing decisions being handled at the top, and provided evidence to prove it in the form of officer detail sheets from July 4:
What do you think your constituents are going to think after they see these detail sheets? Citizens that I speak to daily are incensed. They are becoming aware that priority 2 calls, which are calls requiring an immediate police response can hold for hours. The Department’s official position regarding response times to these calls is a fabrication; we are not providing the citizens of Dallas “real-time policing,” we are doing mop-up work, at best.
Novello told RedState that Mayor Rawlings has agreed to meet with him on the 13th.