Days after a shooting that killed a teenager, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia met with community members in South Oak Cliff about improving public safety.

Concerns brought by the community are not treated lightly by DPD, said Garcia, after the death of 15-year-old Derek Geter Park Friday night.

Charles Martin is the senior pastor at Union Church of Polk Street. He was at the event and stated that several people in his church are concerned about the response of the police to violent crime.

The Dallas Express reported that the numbers may back up Pastor Martin. According to Crime Boss statistics from last month, violent crime increased by 50% year-over-year in April, and Dallas’ murder rate of 16.9 per 100,000 in 2021 was 2.6 times the national average.

“They’re concerned about police response time in our area and safety in our area, be it for children or adults,” Martin said. “I would like to have a conversation with our Southwest Patrol Division chief so we can improve it.”

Chief Garcia has made violent crime his focus since taking over the role in 2021, as The Dallas Express reported.

Garcia said he still does not have the manpower he would like to have, even with the city’s $500 million budget.

“Even if I could snap my fingers now and miraculously say I’m going to have 400 more officers, I can’t absorb 400 more officers right now,” Garcia said. “I don’t have the recruiting. I don’t have the academy space. I don’t have enough trainers and supervision.”

Martin suggested a new way of approaching public safety.

“What assets do we have in the community where we can begin not to become community police, but so concerned that we can begin to police ourselves and make some differences?” he asked.

Hiawatha Recreation Center in Oak Cliff hosted the event Monday night. Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold, a former Dallas Express crime boss organized the event.