An earlier version of this story misstated what agency a 911 dispatcher works for. Kristy Bleau of Lake Dallas is a 911 dispatcher for Grapevine.
LAKE DALLAS — Lake Dallas officials began the process Thursday to see if it’s possible to merge its police department with the city of Corinth serve their towns and Shady Shores.
Lake Dallas City Council approved an interlocal agreement Thursday in a 4 to 1 vote to conduct a study to see if it is feasible to merge its police department with the Corinth Police Department. Lake Dallas’ interim city manager Mike Wilson said he knew residents had several questions and concerns.
“I’ll tell you what it’s not,” Wilson said. “It’s not a dissolution of the Lake Dallas Police Department or an absorption by Corinth. This isn’t [Lake Dallas City Council] making a decision to consolidate, but simply a decision to engage in that study. Once they receive a final report, they’ll make an informed decision if they want to do this or resume operations.”
Officials in Lake Dallas reached out to Corinth officials in June to get the ball rolling on a merger. Before it becomes a more permanent deal, the two towns will merge their police departments and study the services for about 12 to 18 months to see if a long-term deal is feasible. Corinth City Manager Bob Hart said Monday it makes sense for them to actively study a merger rather than jump in fully before they can work out the kinks.
The study would run from Sept. 1, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2022.
“We’re looking at some of the legal structure between the two cities,” Hart said. “I think you’re going to have to look at the [information technology] side, the staffing levels, pay levels, vehicles, equipment, supplies, training and the onboarding curriculum and approach.”
Aside from that, Hart said they’re going to listen to the community to gauge if they’re supportive of the change. Hart said the topic may come before Corinth’s City Council on Aug. 5.
At Thursday night’s meeting, only one person spoke on the topic of the merger. Kristy Bleau, a 911 dispatcher for Grapevine, said she supports the measure.
“As a dispatcher, my job is to ensure that every single one of my officers is safe, and every single one of my firefighters is tucked away in a bed,” Bleau said. “So their safety is a priority, their workloads a priority, and then pointed home to their families with priority.”
With the departments sharing resources, Wilson said they can start to address police officers’ long hours, which can be detrimental to their mental health and performance.
During the merger study, Corinth Police Chief Jerry Garner would be named interim chief for the Lake Dallas Police Department, which currently doesn’t have a chief. Garner said Tuesday they provide police response to at least 20,000 people in Corinth and Shady Shores, an adjacent town they have a contract with. Corinth police is staffed with 33 sworn positions.
Wilson said Lake Dallas is home to about 8,000 people and the Police Department is authorized to have 17.5 full time employees, of which 16 are sworn positions.
“Some of the benefits that would come from the two departments merging is we would have more people available in an emergency and in non-emergency situations,” Wilson said.
Garner said the two departments already help each other out during emergencies if no officers are available at one agency.
“If you put your forces together, and there’s a Corinth [officer] available [to help in Lake Dallas], the citizen shouldn’t have to wait as long,” he said. “We had a situation as recent as [Monday] where we were totally tied up for a while. Lake Dallas came over to assist us.”
Garner said he’s spoken with Lt. Adam Sawyer in Lake Dallas, who would remain second in command in Lake Dallas, and they agreed they would make whatever taxpayers and elected officials want work.
Both interlocal agreements include a section that would allow either department to end the study at any time with a 60-day notice.
“If they want to make a merger work, we will get that done,” Garner said. “If they want to remain separate, we will get that done. We will just figure it out as we go along.”