The Fort Worth Police Department is using its $229 million budget to train nearly 40 more officers and eventually add a sixth patrol division.
It’s a $25 million boost and a 12 percent increase from the 2015 fiscal year. This is the largest budget increase for the department in over 10 years. The FWPD’s new budget accounts for 37 percent of the city’s general fund.
Most of that money pays for the 1,827 police department positions. Personnel services and employee benefits make up 87 percent of the department’s entire budget.
City Manager David Cooke said some of those new positions will staff the new patrol division.
“It’s no secret response times have been too slow. Adding that sixth patrol division will really help out with that,” Cooke said.
According to a July report from Cooke to the city council, average police response times for Priority 1 calls increased citywide by more than one minute since 2011. Priority 1 calls indicate an immediate threat to life. This year the response times have averaged 9 minutes, 44 seconds.
Cooke said the city’s goal is to bring Priority 1 response times down to 8 minutes, 26 seconds.
In addition to the money in the general fund, the Crime Control and Prevention District will increase spending for officer recruiting and training by 7 percent.
The new FWPD budget also includes funding for an expansion of the on-officer body camera program and the implementation of a mock-village system for scenario training at the new public safety complex.
The city council approved the police department’s budget during the budget hearing on Sept. 14. The 2016 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.
“I would just like to congratulate him [David Cooke] on the effort that he and his staff have undertaken,” Councilman Jungus Jordan said at the meeting.
“This is the finest product that’s ever been presented to the council in my tenure.”