Eddie Garcia, the new Dallas Police Department chief, starts the job today.

The new Dallas Police Department chief Eddie Garcia starts his job today, amid an emerging plan to change policing in Dallas.

Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune gave neighbors insight into some of the changes DPD is making at City Councilman Chad West’s public safety meeting last week.

The changes are based on the 2019 DPD efficiency study by KPMG, Fortune said.

Jobs

The study found that DPD had a poor ratio of officers to non-police employees. “DPD had a lot of sworn police officers doing jobs civilians could do,” Fortune said.

The department found 95 police jobs on its payroll that are being turned into non-police jobs, Fortune said.

Mental-health diversion

The department also is expanding its Right Care program, which is a new approach to people experiencing mental-health crises. DPD has had one Right Care unit working as a pilot program since 2017, and 10 more units are expected to be rolled out this year — five by April and five more in October.

Each Right Care team rolls in a van and includes a DPD officer, Dallas Fire Rescue paramedic, a Parkland Hospital licensed behavioral health specialist, and a North Texas Behavioral Health Authority clinician. There is also a licensed behavioral health specialist in the 911 call center.

Since it was rolled out in South Dallas in 2017, there has been a “29.5% reduction in mental health calls to 911 requiring an ambulance,” in the sector it serves, according to the City of Dallas.

Having civilian mental-health specialists respond to those calls also decreases hospitalizations and diverts people from jail, Fortune said.

Alcohol-related diversion

The department also working on a “sobering deflection center” where those charged repeatedly with alcohol-related offenses can be sent for clinical support and keeps them out of jail.

“We will avoid assessing another charge that piles up and holds people back from living their lives,” Fortune said.


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