Violent Crime Reduction Plan Is ‘A Start’

Last month, Dallas mayor Eric Johnson sent City Manager T.C. Broadnax a message: The increase in crime in the city was “patently unacceptable.”

“But as we approach 2020, it is my expectation that our city staff and our police department will work more aggressively and transparently toward making Dallas safer,” he said. “While I believe Dallas remains relatively safe for a major U.S. city, the level of violent crime we have seen through 11 months of 2019 is patently unacceptable.”

Johnson asked for a”concrete plan” at that time, and Jan. 2, 2020, Dallas police chief Reneé Hall submitted a 26-page plan that includes increasing investigators, adding civilian analysts, and establishing a 100-person violent crime reduction team.

The response,  however, has been mixed, with Johnson calling it “a start.”

Requests for comment from council members Lee Kleinman and Jennifer Gates were not returned by press time, but Kleinman told WFAA that he remains “very supportive” of Hall, and said she is “doing a good job.”

“This plan is a start. I am pleased to see Chief Hall’s ideas for reducing violent crime in our city,” the mayor said in a statement. “And I am glad to see that she has described this plan as a ‘living’ document, as I have some concerns that I hope to see addressed in the coming weeks.”

Johnson said he thinks the violent crime reduction goals should be “more ambitious.” Violent crime increased by 14% for robberies and 19% for aggravated assaults in 2019. Homicides numbered 209 — a 30% increase. Hall’s plan aims for a reduction across the board by 5% this year. With nearly three-quarters of the city’s violent crime in four specific patrol divisions (southeast, southwest, south-central, and northeast), Hall also set a goal to reduce robberies, murders, and aggravated assaults by 10% this year.

“We should strive to reduce homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies to 2018 levels citywide, at least,” said Johnson. “And over the next five years, our aim should be to reduce violent crime back to the historic lows this city saw in 2013 and 2014.”

Hall’s plan calls for more data analysis to pinpoint where violent crime is happening most, and then improving crime-solving by adding more detectives — 10 a year. The plan also calls for improving communication with the public regarding crime statistics and adding civilian jobs to better triage the department’s resources.

A 100-member violent crime reduction team will utilize officers from narcotics, fugitive, gangs, and investigative units.

But Johnson, at least, wants more nitty-gritty.

“I would also like to see more details on the implementation of the strategies mentioned in this plan, including some clear timelines and metrics for measuring outcomes,” he said.

Many council members have indicated they wanted to spend some time reviewing the plan before commenting. Kleinman, along with fellow council members Adam McGough and Cara Mendelsohn, as well as State Sen. Nathan Johnson, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, and state representatives Ana-Maria Ramos and John Turner, will host a North Dallas business crime summit with the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 21 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. to discuss crime statistics and more as well.

“Dallas deserves our very best efforts in the year ahead to ensure that 2020 is safer than 2019, and that our residents can sleep soundly knowing that our police department is working aggressively and strategically toward apprehending and deterring violent offenders,” Johnson concluded. “This plan is key to our success in this regard, and I look forward to discussing it in more detail with the city manager and the esteemed members of the Dallas City Council.”

Violent Crime Reduction Plan by PeopleNewspapersDallas on Scribd

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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