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Are Dallas Cops Really Disgruntled?

The Dallas Police Association put out a release this morning about a morale survey that was conducted among its membership. As the DMN has pointed out, the results do not look good. Eighty percent of respondents said morale in the department was “low” or “the lowest its ever been.” No question that Chief David Brown has a situation on his hands that needs addressing. But a few words about the limitations of this survey before anyone thinks the sky is falling:

In 2003, when Terrell Bolton was chief (remember him?), we conducted our own morale survey of cops. There are four police unions. We were only able to survey the DPA, the same organization being surveyed this time around. There were about 3,000 Dallas cops then. We mailed — yes, mailed — 2,403 surveys and received 1,189 responses. Ask me how much fun I had manually entering those results into a spreadsheet.

Today, there are about 3,500 cops, 1,279 of which are DPA members who answered the survey. Clearly our survey destroyed this survey, in terms of response rate. But here’s the bigger point: today’s survey represents the views of 37 percent of the total department. More than half of that group of 37 percent has been on the force longer than 10 years (look at more data here). I think it’s fair to say that disgruntled people are more likely to take morale surveys than satisfied people. Which means it’s also fair to say that these results skew toward the views of the “black button club.”

9 comments on “Are Dallas Cops Really Disgruntled?

  1. At lunch, I talked to a guy I know who has been on the force for more than 20 years. He’s black, if that matters (and it probably does). He hadn’t yet seen the results of the survey. When I told him about them, he wasn’t at all surprised. His take is that the department is no less dysfunctional or disgruntled than when Kunkle or Bolton were in charge. Just one data point, obviously. Take it for what it’s worth.

  2. Disgruntled about what exactly did he say?

    How much of that has to do with Brown and how much of that has to do with Dallas Police and Fire Pension’s management of a pension many veterans were kinda banking on?

  3. Tim,
    I understand your claim that D Magazine’s 2003 survey “destroyed” our recent survey (both had a response rate of around 40%) is an example of your lighthearted sarcasm. But the future of the Dallas Police Department and our ability to protect our families is a serious issue for the committed officers of the Dallas Police Association.
    Our survey sampling is more than enough to give an accurate reading of what is occurring within the DPD. We decided to conduct this survey after continually hearing a diverse mix of officers voice their concerns about the management of the DPD and their increasing lack of transparency – concerns that have been ignored by DPD leadership.
    Over the coming weeks, the Dallas Police Association plans on holding a series of meetings with Chief David Brown and his leadership team. Our goal is to begin meaningful dialogue on how we can better protect our families and improve the morale of our officers.
    We hope that Chief Brown will follow our lead and work with the Dallas Police Association to develop policy reforms that improve retention of our best officers and attract only the most qualified candidates to serve in the future. We are all on the same team and our ultimate goal should be the same – a safe, secure and prosperous Dallas protected by the best police force in the country.

    Best regards,
    Ron Pinkston
    President, Dallas Police Association

  4. Tim,
    I understand your claim that D Magazine’s 2003 survey “destroyed” our recent survey (both had a response rate of around 40%) is an example of your lighthearted sarcasm. But the future of the Dallas Police Department and our ability to protect our families is a serious issue for the committed officers of the Dallas Police Association.

    Our survey sampling is more than enough to give an accurate reading of what is occurring within the DPD. We decided to conduct this survey after continually hearing a diverse mix of officers voice their concerns about the management of the DPD and their increasing lack of transparency – concerns that have been ignored by DPD leadership.

    Over the coming weeks, the Dallas Police Association plans on holding a series of meetings with Chief David Brown and his leadership team. Our goal is to begin meaningful dialogue on how we can better protect our families and improve the morale of our officers.

    We hopet that Chief Brown will follow our lead and work with the Dallas Police Association to develop policy reforms that improve retention of our best officers and attract only the most qualified candidates to serve in the future. We are all on the same team and our ultimate goal should be the same – a safe, secure and prosperous Dallas protected by the best police force in the country.

    Best regards,
    Ron Pinkston
    President, Dallas Police Association

  5. Yes, Ron. What I meant was that our survey got a response rate about 1 percent higher than the one we’re talking about today — meaning the response rates are essentially the same. And I understand why you’d use my lightheartedness as an opportunity to point out how serious the issue is.

    If everyone were on the same team, though, there wouldn’t be four teams of police unions.

    That said, if this survey leads to more communication, then it will have served its purpose — and the citizens of Dallas. I wish you good luck.

  6. To hear my guy tell it, a lot of the disgruntlement has to do with the way the recent police shootings have been handled. Cops need to feel like the department has their back when things get ugly. They daily deal with the worst that our city can offer. They need support from top brass to do that dangerous job and go home safe every day.

    To be clear: that is my guy’s perspective.

  7. After spending 11yrs with DPD I finally moved on. I joined another department just north of Dallas. I’m happy and motivated, than ever!! I like the leadership here. oH yeah at least they give me a call with cold air during the hot summer day where as DPD forced officers to drive a car with hot air. I keep in touch with my former patrolmen and feel bad for them…especially in the last few years. Good luck to you guys and hope that you guys will get a better commander(S) as well as better Mayor who will praise for what you guys have to deal with day in a day out rather than throw you guys under the bus.
    12hurs shift I answer about 6-7calls where as you guys answer 10-20 calls for 8 hours and get yell and scream at by idiots

  8. Maybe if they stopped shooting people and lying about it — and defending other cops who do the same — I might have more sympathy. It’s not about the brass “not having their back” or whatever. They did this to themselves.