Dallas has 53 deputy marshals who are sworn peace officers, just like Dallas police. They drive black and white cars, just like Dallas police. But they are paid like the city’s civilian employees, and they say that is unfair.
"We deserve to be paid more than we are getting right now," said Armando Tijerina, a marshals’ union representative.
Tijerina said he has been with the city of Dallas for 21 year, but is paid just $54,000 a year. Starting Dallas police pay is now $60,000, and police are set for another pay raise in the new city budget that’s being finalized.
"If they’re doing the same job as we do, as DPD, why not get compensated to the same amount," said Dallas police Sgt. George Aranda, the National Latino Law Enforcement Organization Dallas chapter president.
Aranda’s union chapter includes 35 of the 53 Dallas marshals.
The marshals’ basic tasks are to investigate environmental crimes and arrest people for municipal court misdemeanor warrants.
Those duties can be dangerous.
"We’ll find weapons in the vehicle. We’ll find narcotics in the vehicle and so on, and the charges escalate," Tijerina said.
But marshals are asked to do much more than the basic duties.
This summer, they participated in the Dallas police summer crime initiative, working alongside Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, or on their own, to make traffic stops in high crime areas.
"Nothing is routine and these guys are out there doing the same thing we are. So let’s pay these guys," Aranda said.
Now, Aranda said there is talk among officials at Dallas City Hall of merging the marshals with the police department. It’s complicated because the marshals work under a different pension plan.
"They do want to meet and they do what to rectify it, but it’s going to take some work," Aranda said.
In a city with hundreds fewer police officers than there were a few years ago, Tijerina said citizens do not notice the difference between marshals and police.
"They see a uniform, they see a law enforcement officer, they want help immediately," he said.
Dallas marshal cars have Dallas police radios and computers. Marshals train with Dallas police. Tijerina said Marshals deserve Dallas police wages.
Photo Credit: NBC 5 News