Department Operations Updates: March 16, 2021

This post includes a summary of recent Dallas County department operations updates relevant, specifically, to members of the Dallas County Commissioners Court. Many of these updates pertain to key objectives outlined in the county’s Q1 Objectives and Key Results (OKR) Quarterly Update Report.

Consolidated Services

Director: Christopher Hooper

Christopher Hooper, Director of Consolidated Services

Our department is prioritizing containing costs of services, increasing the efficiency of our processes and maximizing our use of limited resources in a financially responsible manner.

Our department received the 100 Best Fleets in 2020 Award in April 2020. 

This award is distributed by the National Fleet Management Association (NAFA) and evaluates organizations’ fleet operations, professionalism and excellence based on 12 criteria: accountability, use of technology, team collaboration, creativity in addressing challenges, celebrating successes, a high-trust culture, employee recognition, the extent to which repairs and service are done right the first time, the speed and efficiency of repairs and maintenance, parts price control, efforts dedicated to staff development and the maximization of use of all resources, including human, capital and natural (fuel).

Our Fleet Operations Division, responsible for Dallas County and Parkland Hospital’s vehicle fleets, implemented safety measures to proactively ensure the continuation of the division’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Instituted strict COVID-19 employee and customer safety protocols and procedures to ensure continuity of operations.
  • Engaged a vehicle disinfection service to treat and protect county-owned vehicles at the start of the pandemic. 
  • Initiated a pilot program with the Health and Human Services Department for contactless drop-off and pick-up of vehicles. 

Our Fleet Operations Division is implementing innovative training and education initiatives to promote safe driving.

  • Established a Smith System driver safety training to mitigate preventable accidents. 
  • Created customized safety videos for the county’s Automotive Service Center (ASC) team members to enhance safety awareness.
  • Implemented a Ford Motor Company STARS training program to enhance automotive technicians’ training and knowledge. 

Our Fleet Operations Division is proactively ensuring its operations align with industry best practices and innovating to address customers’ and drivers’ needs.

  • Expanded fuel capacity and distribution capabilities at the DeSoto service center.  
  • Produced a five-year Vehicle Replacement Forecast.
  • Piloted a shared vehicle services program with the Purchasing Department. 
  • Benchmarked staffing at the county’s ASC to industry-range standards. 
  • Launched an environmental management system initiative with the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) committee and TMAC (a consulting firm that prioritizes delivering hands-on business management, technology and operations solutions to government entities). 
  • Added more alternatively-fueled vehicles to the county’s fleet.  
  • Aligned law enforcement pursuit vehicle replacement criteria with industry best practices.
  • Onboarded a mobile tire repair service to provide county vehicle drivers with an on-demand field tire repair/replacement to avoid vehicle towing to ASC.
  • Facilitated ASC facility extension in conjunction with the Facilities Management Department to accommodate space needed for critical repair equipment.
  • Rolled out a new key management system to facilitate the loaning of vehicles to customers.
  • Acquired mobile fuel trailers to establish mobile fueling capabilities to assist customers with remote fueling needs and emergency scenarios. 
  • Incorporated reserve power (generator) capabilities to the county’s ASC facility and fuel-island dispensers to ensure the resiliency of our operations in the event of unforeseen emergencies and power outages. 
  • Created a customer-feedback instrument to obtain post-service data and information. 

Our Records Management Division is facilitating effective records-management practices and assisting county departments in their efforts to comply with the Local Government Records Act. 

  • Aligned team members’ compensation structures to sync with the increasing complexities of the job.
  • Completed a rescan of the Records Management Center’s box inventory to ensure calibration and accuracy. 
  • Completed and managed a safety review and job hazard analysis and implemented additional safety training protocols.
  • Conducted consultation services for customer departments on electronic recordkeeping in conjunction with records digitization efforts.
  • Provided emergency after-hours presort support services to the Treasurer’s Department.
  • Performed a detailed facility cleaning of the Records Management Center’s primary records facility, the French Settlement.
  • Initiated the process of increasing the storage capacity within primary records facility French Settlement by transferring longer-retention, permanent records to secondary facility Panoramic.
  • Initiated a version update of the Records Management software (database) to improve system processes and capabilities.
  • Upgraded our facility’s printing infrastructure to enhance efficiency.
  • Created a test environment with a Records Management consultant for cloud transition to allow for debugging prior to our go-live production phase. 
  • Commenced box retrievals and integrity checks of damaged boxes and performed re-boxing when necessary (at a non-environmentally-controlled facility).  
  • Initiated software updates, equipment calibration and accuracy verification of the Records Management database in preparation for scanning at the new records center. 

Our Wireless Radio Communications Division accomplishes key objectives to further its ability to maintain, repair and oversee all county public safety, radio-frequency infrastructure and the dispatch center’s wireless radio channel components. 

  • Continued Project 25 (P25), a radio implementation project, in conjunction with the City of Dallas to attain a 41% completion of the project’s infrastructure. This is impressive because the project entails coordination with more than 20 municipalities and local government entities. We have entered into several interlocal agreements with about 20 other neighboring municipalities that will be supported by this radio project. 
  • Secured and initiated programming for the next phase of P25, which entails upgrading from analog to digital radios for optimal interoperability. In this project phase, 350 radios will be installed at a cost of $626,668. This phase of the project will bring upgrades to the South Tower Jail, the West Tower Jail, the George L. Allen, Sr. Courts Building, and the bailiff and security divisions of the Sheriff’s Department. 
  • Installed new digital radio units for Dallas County’s North Tower Jail (which replaced the jail’s analog units). 117 radios were installed for $203,750. For context, each radio costs roughly $5,000, and our team has upgraded and distributed radios amounting to nearly $1 million to date. 
  • Developed infrastructure and architecture in partnership with the Information Technology and Purchasing Departments for the dispatch center at the new South Dallas Government Center.  
  • Consolidated county-wide cable service billing at the North Dallas Government Center, South Dallas Government Center (new service pending), the Dallas County Judge’s Office and the Office of Homeland Security. 

Our Mailroom Operations Division makes strategic changes and investments to provide county departments with efficient, reliable and convenient mail services. 

  • Realized ongoing cost savings due to our division’s investment in the Pitney Bowes electronic, certified-mail software. Departments save $1.25 per certified envelope mailed using the electronic software. 
  • Reengineered our courier contract to expand services for customer departments.
  • Retooled mail operations to assist with our satellite customer departments’ collection of U.S. Postal Service mail during the closure of these offices during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Restructured mail operations to accommodate receiving package deliveries for various departments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Completed safety training regarding the prevention of workplace accidents and other jobsite hazards.  

Facilities Management

Director: Greg Gray

Greg Gray, Director of Facilities Management

Assistant Director Joe Flores retired in November 2020 after 35 years of service to Dallas County and Daniel Cherry fulfilled his role.

Joe began work at Dallas County as a building mechanic and worked his way through the ranks to become lead building mechanic, then facilities manager and then assistant director. Joe not only directed daily maintenance and operations of Dallas County’s facilities, but also, he was passionate about process improvement and Lean Six Sigma initiatives. He implemented several changes that continue to contribute to the department’s increased output such as changing our employees’ schedules in the jail from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to align more closely with the sheriff’s schedule and increase the number of daily work orders completed. 

Our department collaborated during the February 2021 cold-weather event to ensure the county could continue operating and produced significant cost savings.

Our staff ensured walkways were clear for county employees, monitored the county’s 24/7 operational facilities to ensure they remained heated and with access to water and expeditiously repaired weather-related damages. Our department’s efforts saved the county an estimated several hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages that would have occurred had our staff not been responsive and on location during the entire cold snap.

Our department’s key projects are progressing as scheduled.

Our department received praise from a reputable third party for its exceptional performance.

In February 2021, the county’s adult detention facilities were inspected by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The commission praised our department for our hard work maintaining these facilities.

Our department is on track to digitize a significant portion of our operations by summer of 2021. 

Our department-wide integration of the Wasp InventoryCloud software, a cloud-based inventory-management software, is scheduled for completion in summer of 2021.

Our department is on track to remain within our allotted budget due to our commitment to deploying prudent spending practices and fiscally-conservative budget strategies.

Over half of our department’s allotted budget remains, though we are almost to the halfway point of the budget year. This is because all requisitions are reviewed, and our department purchases only the shelf-stock material that can be used feasibly in one quarter. Our department partners with vendors that will come on site and take inventory of our consumable items that way they can replenish our inventory based on current and predicted usage. This prevents waste and saves money, as we only purchase items on an as-needed basis. Fiscal Service Manager Cynthia Hernandez also monitors the budget and keeps our accounts current. She is diligent in reviewing current purchase orders, closing those that are no longer needed and returning any unused money back to our department’s budget. 

Our department installed COVID-19 safety enhancements at all county buildings.

  • Added bipolar ionization and UV lighting to the Frank Crowley Courts Building, George L. Allen, Sr. Courts Building, Health and Human Services Office, Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences (SWIFS) and Henry Wade Juvenile Justice Center.  
  • Added UV lighting to the detention facilities.   
  • Incorporated UV lighting and bipolar ionization in our new construction projects. 

Our department created an effective personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution system that is being used by the entire county.

Our department recognizes outstanding employee Cynthia Armendariz, an inventory control specialist, for her exceptional work in our supply division. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cynthia controlled the county’s inventory of PPE and ensured supplies were available to all county employees. For more, read the Dallas County Messenger’s conversation with Cynthia. Cynthia says, “I love that I have the freedom to make the changes necessary to do my job. The trust and support from our department’s director and assistant director have made all the difference in the confidence that I’ve gained in my career while working for Dallas County.” 

Cynthia Armendariz, Inventory Control Specialist

Our department installed security cameras at various county facilities to improve security and safety.  

  • Installed five 360-degree cameras per court floor from floor three to floor seven at the Frank Crowley Courts Building.
  • Added two cameras to every screening point at the George L. Allen, Sr. Courts Building, the Frank Crowley Courts Building and the Henry Wade Juvenile Justice Center.
  • Added 360-degree, pan-tilt zoom (PTZ) cameras to the east and southwest sides of the Frank Crowley Courts Building to cover those plaza areas.
  • Added two 360-degree cameras on floors three and four of the George L. Allen, Sr. Courts Building.
  • Added a 360-degree camera to monitor the ATM at the George L. Allen, Sr. Courts Building.
  • Added interior and exterior cameras at the East Dallas Government Center on St. Francis.
  • Added a 360-degree camera in the Dallas Marshal’s Office Evidence Room. 
  • Added a camera in the North Dallas Government Center Treasurer’s Office Safe Room.
  • Added cameras at the Mockingbird Health and Human Services COVID-19 Tracking Center. 
  • Added three 360-degree cameras at the Grand Prairie Tax Office. 
  • Completed the Health and Human Services Basement and Roof Camera Project.
  • Replaced a fixed-view, exterior camera with 360-degree coverage to provide better coverage of the north side of the parking lot at 2121 Panoramic Circle.
  • Replaced an outdated, analog lobby camera with a 360-degree camera at the George L. Allen, Sr. Courts Building.
  • Completed garage network infrastructure and began installing cameras at the Frank Crowley Courts Building’s C and D parking garages and initiated the F-Lot Camera Project.  
  • Replaced the south side interior and exterior entrance cameras at the North Dallas Government Center with two 360-degree cameras and moved the existing two fixed-view cameras to the tax trailer in the parking lot. 

Fire Marshal

Director: Robert De Los Santos

Robert De Los Santos, Dallas County Fire Marshal

Two deputy fire marshals successfully completed the semi-annual inspection of the county’s adult detention facilities in January 2021 and will complete the semi-annual inspection of the county’s juvenile detention facilities in March 2021.

Our department conducts two inspections each year of the county’s adult and juvenile detention facilities. Adult facility inspections occur in January and July and juvenile inspections occur in March and August. As part of a group effort, we identify and correct problems and then reinspect to ensure compliance and proper operations. Due to the frequency and thoroughness of our department’s inspections, most facilities remain in compliance with all relevant standards. 

Two innovative, precedent-setting unincorporated-area cleanups are on track to occur this spring in the southern and northeastern areas of the county.

Because of COVID-19, these clean-up projects have been on hold in the interest of public safety; however, both cleanups will occur this spring. These projects entail collaboration with several other county departments including the Department of Unincorporated Area Services, the Fire Marshal Department, Public Works, Health and Human Services and the county’s road and bridge divisions. As part of these clean-up initiatives, we will alert relevant community members, engage the Sheriff’s Department to conduct prescription-medicine collections, collect household items that may not be disposed of in a typical trash receptacle and ensure that residents have proper receptacles for trash collection. 

Our department assigned a fire marshal to work on site at the COVID-19 Fair Park Vaccination Site to support operations underway. 

Our department successfully collaborated with a variety of departments to safely reopen Dallas County’s buildings as part of our 2020 COVID-19 Reopen Plan.

From the inception of the county’s reopening initiative, we coordinated all county building assessments with members part of a task force that included staff from the Human Resources, Facilities Management, Marshal Service / Building Security, Fire Marshal and Health and Human Services Departments. We visited each location at which county operations are conducted to assess a reduced capacity per the governor’s order. We also assessed safety features that could be implemented to ensure proper social distancing and separation. This was a three-month project beginning in the summer of 2020.  

Our department congratulates Deputy Justin Porter for completing in February 2021 his Fire Executive Management Training Program (FEMT) through the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas

Our department recognizes Assistant Fire Marshal Michael Barber for his ability to confront and successfully navigate challenges at every turn.

Michael first joined the department as a Deputy Fire Marshal just over four years ago. Since, he was promoted within the department to Assistant Fire Marshal and, most recently in July 2020, he was promoted to Interim Director of the Dallas County Department of Unincorporated Area Services (DUAS). Robert says that during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael was “instrumental in helping the department complete COVID-19 related sizing and occupancy code-compliance inspections for the entire county.” For more, read the Dallas County Messenger’s conversation with Michael. Michael says, “I think the foundation of my motivation stems from the fact that our office is small with a very limited staff. Because of this, we are a very specialized group, and what we do every day makes an impact and produces great rewards.”

Michael Barber, Assistant Fire Marshal

Marshal Service / Building Security

Director: Robert De Los Santos

Our department is completing all necessary inspections and satisfying all training requirements.

  • All telecommunicators have completed their Texas Commission on Law Enforcement’s (TCOLE) 2021 bi-annual training requirements and have passed the state’s telecommunicators licensing exam. All TCOLE Positions, which include peace officers and telecommunicators, are required by the State of Texas to complete mandated trainings to ensure validation of their licenses. This is the first time in three years that all positions have been filled and all personnel certified. 
  • We satisfied all regulatory requirements to maintain our Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Private Security Bureau’s license and registered the department’s Government Letter of Authority (GLOA) for our in-house, level three security officers. The GLOA allows Dallas County to operate its own security organization.   
  • We are prepared for auditors from the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Justice Information Service to conduct their bi-annual inspection to ensure compliance of confidential information and practices.

The planning stages of our department’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) initiative have resumed to ensure department officers are prepared to respond to and address active-shooter situations.

This training was on hold due to COVID-19-related challenges, but progress and planning is again underway. The training and drill will encompass personnel from multiple agencies. This multi-agency training will encompass collaboration, interoperability and tactics. The ALERRT program has been endorsed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as the national standard of law enforcement response to active-shooter situations.

Our department is providing law enforcement personnel and peace officers to support daily operations at the COVID-19 Fair Park Vaccination Site. 

Our department conducted crime assessments to enhance safety at county facilities and within county districts and collaborated with other departments as necessary.

  • We conducted crime assessments on behalf of the Dallas County Tax Assessor to identify safety and security strategies to enhance security at the county’s government centers. We collaborated with leadership within the Dallas County Tax Office to identify concerns and risks and develop crime-prevention measures. These efforts cultivated in the approval of Corporal Positions assigned to work at the county’s tax offices. This will ensure that law enforcement will be present at four government centers beginning in August 2021. These positions were approved in February 2021. Additional positions are under pending review for consideration in mid-2021. 
  • We conducted a crime assessment for Road & Bridge District 4 to identify safety and security strategies to reduce property crime and enhance security at the location. The department collaborated with the Facilities Management Department, Road & Bridge District 4 and contract security partners to accomplish the task. The crime assessment was submitted to key leadership for review and implementation.
  • We conducted a crime assessment for the Letot Center. As part of this initiative, we collaborated with Juvenile Department leadership to identify risks and enhance safety and security for the facility and its personnel. The assessment was submitted to the Juvenile Department’s leadership for review and implementation. 

Our department seeks the reclassification of department-specific leadership positions, as the Marshal Service / Building Security Department was absorbed as a division of the Fire Marshal Department. 

We seek to reclassify the Assistant Chief Position due to an increase in workload and additional responsibilities. We propose downgrading the Chief Position to a Major Position and having the Assistant Chief Position encompass additional responsibilities typically allotted to the Chief. 

Our department successfully collaborated with a variety of departments to safely reopen Dallas County’s buildings as part of our 2020 COVID-19 Reopen Plan. Measures implemented allowed for our department’s supervisors, managers and directors to stay abreast of daily operations and ensure optimal service to Dallas County citizens, visitors and employees.

  • Executing this plan and supporting all county government center efforts required department personnel to work 12-hour shifts for a period of eight months. This measure was implemented to enhance security at county facilities and to provide leadership for the additional roughly 100 contract security officers hired to support social distancing measures and promote safety for county visitors and employees. 
  • We strategically implemented measures that would place Marshal Service / Building Security personnel at each county government center. Uniformed security personnel served as direct liaisons between Tax Office leadership and contract security staff. The uniformed security personnel coordinated daily operations on county sites and provided a direct link to our department’s leadership for daily coordinated briefings to identify successes and challenges. Law enforcement personnel were assigned to sectors to patrol Dallas County to conduct daily site visits at each location and provide leadership support and uniformed security personnel. 

Applicant Processing has significantly enhanced our department’s recruiting, training and retention of personnel.

Our Telecommunicator Positions are 100% filled, and our Peace Officer and Security Officer Positions are 90% filled.

Our department recognizes Government Letter of Authority (GLOA)-Commissioned Security Officer Tim Roses for his exceptional service.

Assistant Chief Jose Munoz says, “Tim is our senior security officer and has served Dallas County for 25 years. He is a very kind officer who seeks to do his best each day. His knowledge of county building operations and his dedication to helping citizens makes him an invaluable asset to Dallas County.” Read more about what motivates Tim in this Dallas County Messenger post.

“Tim is our senior security officer and has served Dallas County for 25 years. He is a very kind officer who seeks to do his best each day. His knowledge of county building operations and his dedication to helping citizens makes him an invaluable asset to Dallas County.”

Jose Munoz, Assistant Chief
Tim Roses, GLOA-Commissioned Security Officer

Our department celebrates Marshal Jacob Ballard’s professional success story as proof of the power of supporting and promoting talent within our department’s ranks.

Jacob is a military veteran who first joined Dallas County as a security officer. He temporarily left the county to complete training at the Tarrant County College Law Enforcement Academy, from which he graduated with honors and then returned to Dallas County to serve as a marshal. Read more about Jacob’s story in this Dallas County Messenger post. Jacob says, “The Dallas County Marshals always strive to achieve excellence while serving the citizens of Dallas County, which is nothing less than what they deserve to expect from their partners in the law enforcement community.”

Jacob Ballard, Marshal

Our department thanks the Dallas County Commissioners Court for its continued support and collaboration, as this collaborative support is critical to our department’s success.

Our department has overcome a variety of challenges and setbacks to become a distinguished department that contributes to the successful execution of Dallas County’s mission and goals. 

Planning and Development

Director: Luis Tamayo

Luis Tamayo, Director of Planning and Development

Luis Tamayo began work as Dallas County’s new Director of Planning and Development on January 11, 2021.

Luis replaced Rick Loessberg, who retired from Dallas County after 36 years of service. Prior to joining Dallas County, Luis served as Chief Planner at the City of Dallas. He has over 20 years of experience in public- and private-sector planning. Read the Dallas County Messenger’s conversation with Luis here. Luis says, “Dallas County for me was the logical choice. It is home! … What encouraged me the most to join Dallas County was the genuine positivity and welcoming spirit that I found from every Dallas County employee I encountered.

Our department is successfully executing its performance goals.

  • We installed more than 2,400 linear feet of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)-funded water/sewer lines during FY2021. 
  • We installed 2,400 linear feet of CDBG-funded water/sewer lines during FY2021. 
  • We reconstructed 8,000 linear feet of CDBG-funded streets during FY2021. 
  • We reviewed 100% of requests and inquiries for economic development assistance during FY2021 and ensured compliance with policy. 

Our department’s key projects are progressing on or ahead of schedule.

  • We completed the design of the Cockrell Hill Water Project (located at Dempster Street and Ogden Avenue) in December 2020.
  • Our Lancaster, TX street project was completed ahead of schedule in September 2020.
  • Our Seagoville, TX street projects were completed in October 2020. 
  • Design progress is underway on county-administered projects in Glenn Heights, TX and Hutchins, TX.
  • We’ve reviewed five new economic development projects: two are active, two are prospective with offer letters and one is no longer a viable project.
  • At Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Hutchins, TX, we completed final inspections, negotiated final changes and set project completion and delivery dates for April. Dallas County provided funding ($150,000 in CDBG funds and $300,000 in CARES Act funding) to complete the park.  
A view of Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Hutchins, TX.
A view of Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Hutchins, TX.

Our department is successfully partnering with relevant stakeholders to facilitate the progress of a variety of key initiatives.

  • We helped CDBG-eligible cities use their Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allotted grant funding. Examples include Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Hutchins, TX; code enforcement in Hutchins, TX; and street reconstruction in Seagoville, TX and Lancaster, TX.   
  • We assisted the Public Works Department by conducting construction inspection on a major roadway reconstruction project: Denton Drive from south of Walnut Hill Lane north to north of Royal Lane. This is a multi-year project, and our department’s involvement is concluding now that the concrete for the main lanes of the project is poured.
  • As the county’s Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO), we facilitated the sale of a housing project (5444 Gaston Avenue) in the City of Dallas. This is a home to assist foster children who “age out” of foster care. The county originally participated in the purchase of this property ($99,150) and must ensure that federal guidelines are met by the owner and vet subsequent owners to ensure they can do the same. The project was sold in 2020, and we must ensure compliance and release the lien in July 2021.

In July 2020, our department renewed Dallas County’s participation in Housing & Urban Development (HUD) programs by facilitating the execution of program participation agreements with 15 cities. 

Dallas County receives approximately $2 million each year from HUD to operate a CDBG program in its unincorporated area. Last year, this represented 38 major activities for 171,000 people in 12 cities. Activity services included code enforcement, street and water improvements, housing and financial counseling and program administration.

Dallas County Park Ranger David Mackey went above and beyond his job description to assist local hikers in need. 

David fulfills Dallas County’s part-time park ranger position in addition to working as a residential construction inspector for Dallas County’s unincorporated areas. On a hot day in Dallas in August 2020, David was conducting a routine visit to the county’s Goat Island Preserve Trinity River Greenbelt located in unincorporated Dallas. While inspecting the picnic-bench area near the river, he encountered a group of three young hikers in distress, at which point he guided them to safety. David says, “I could see that, near the sand bar, there were three young people (one female and two males). I used my binoculars to take a closer look and realized that one of the males was on the ground and very unstable. I called out to the group, helped them get the male into the shade and put water all over him to cool him down (the temperature outside was around 102 degrees). I guided them up the riverbank and drove them out of the preserve and back to their vehicle. I gave the young man my only bottle of water to drink. The hikers came ill prepared for a hike down the river, as they had no water, no rope to help them get back up the riverbank and no hats to shade them from the sun. They told me they learned a valuable lesson that day about heat and hiking preparedness. I learned something, too. Now, I always carry water, a first aid box, bug spray and a small rope with me.”