City News Roundup
First responders get a pay raise and more Dallas city news
The Dallas Police Department remains at the top of the news, from the aftermath of the Botham Shen Jean shooting to a new chart showing response times to 911 calls.
First responders got a pay raise, property taxes were marginally reduced, and the 311 system gets a reboot.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
Amber Guyger, the DPD officer under investigation for shooting and killing a man in his own apartment, was spotted by neighbors moving out of her South Side Flats apartment on September 13. In a letter sent to residents, management wrote that they were unable to comment on the case but were "able to confirm that the other resident involved has vacated her apartment and no longer resides at our community."
Guyger was arrested on September 9 on a manslaughter warrant in the shooting of Botham Shem Jean. She was booked into the Kaufman County Jail, where she posted a bond of $300,000 and was released. Since her release, conflicting accounts about what happened have emerged, with one version stating that Jean was at the door when Guyger entered, and another stating that he was across the room.
Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall issued a statement on September 20 in response to questions about why Guyger has not been fired, saying that she didn't want to interfere with the criminal investigation. "As an employer, DPD can compel Officer Guyger to provide a statement during a DPD administrative investigation and those statements given to DPD could potentially compromise the criminal investigation," Hall said.
"That is not a risk I am willing to take," she said. "We cannot let the criminal case be determined on a 'technicality' rather than the facts. An exhaustive and thorough criminal investigation is essential, and as soon as we are assured that conducting an administrative investigation will not impede on the criminal investigation, we will proceed."
911 response times
A new chart has emerged showing some improvement in how long it takes a police officer to arrive when you call 911.
The chart identifies five priority levels, ranging from true emergencies to telephone service calls, and shows response times for each.
Priority 1 is "Emergency Calls" such as shooting or kidnapping. Priority 2 is "Prompt Calls" such as robbery, fire, and criminal assault. Priority 3 is "General Service Calls" including missing or intoxicated person, or drug house. Priority 4 is "Non-Critical Calls" such as loud music, panhandling, and animal complaints. Priority 5 is "Service Calls" including lost property.
Police set a goal in late 2017 to decrease response time for Priority 1 calls to 480 seconds by September 2018.
When the goal was set, the average response to a Priority 1 call was 556 seconds. As of August, the time was 506 seconds.
Raises for first responders
The Dallas City Council voted on September 12 to give police officers and firefighters across-the-board pay raises and to bump up starting salaries for beginners.
The pay raises come alongside a $1.3 billion general budget, which passed with 11 in favor, and two opposed, Mayor Mike Rawlings and councilman Lee Kleinman. Mark Clayton was absent.
Base salary for police and firefighters climbs to $60,000, with a 3 percent pay raise to all public safety employees across the board.
The council also voted to lower the property tax rate, from 78.04 cents per $100 valuation to 77.67. With rising property values, the newly adopted tax rate adds around $15 million to the budget.
The budget also sustained other quality-of-life issues that appeared in City Manager T.C. Broadnax's originally proposed budget, including $500,000 toward improving and expanding bike lanes.
The 411 on the 311
The city is working to improve its 311 website and will launch a new mobile application called "OurDallas," available on October 1.
According to a release, the current 311 app will be taken down September 26 at 10 pm. Online access will go down on September 28 at 4 pm, to begin the transition to a new system.
Residents can to back to the old-school dialing 311 to report an issue while the app and website are temporarily disabled. The 311 call center will be staffed with additional agents to handle the anticipated increase in call volume during this time.