DART Beefs Up Security Amid DPD Shortage

DART Police Unit | Image by Harry Thomas Flower/Shutterstock

Crime is on the rise in Dallas, but much of it is still not counted by the City in publicly reported figures.

As previously covered by The Dallas Express, many crimes committed within Dallas city limits do not appear in City statistics because they occur in jurisdictions that have their own police departments. Criminal offenses reported on Dallas ISD campuses, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) property, and in Dallas County buildings do not have to be logged by the City, which provides an incomplete picture of the public safety situation for residents and visitors.

This problem is all the more notable amid steep hikes in criminal incidents within the DART Police Department’s purview, including inside the trains, as reported by Fox 4 KDFW.

One victim, Renee Jolivette told Fox 4, “A gentleman was exposing himself and staring at me. And it scared me. So I called the little safety number. And at the next stop, some officers did get on.”

In 2022, according to Fox 4, the largest percentage of DART police arrests occurred at Downtown Dallas locations. Between April and June of 2023, DART logged significant year-over-year increases in assaults, drug offenses, robberies, thefts, and weapons violations.

In response to the increase in crime, DART appears to be pulling a page from Fort Worth’s playbook. DART will deploy 90 contracted security officers to bolster its current ranks. While its police are budgeted for a force of 220, it is unclear whether DART is fully staffed.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the Dallas Police Department is short roughly 900 sworn officers. A City analysis recommended about three police officers for every 1,000 residents, putting an ideal staffing level for Dallas at approximately 4,000 officers.

“If we could put in policies that would help retention of those senior officers to stay three to maybe five more years than they had planned to, that would help us … catching up in hiring,” said Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata, discussing the shortage with the Dallas Observer in March. “You’ve got to stop the bleeding.”

Jolivette suggested to Fox 4 that DART passengers would welcome the new security officers.

“A lot of us use DART. We’re grateful to have it in Dallas,” she said. “And so any time there’s the opportunity for safety and security and numbers and presence, it’s greatly appreciated.”

The new guards will focus on preventing crime on DART’s 164 trains. It is unclear which routes will receive priority. However, some of the busiest DART stations are in Downtown Dallas, a neighborhood characterized by pervasive crime, homelessness, and vagrancy.

An analysis conducted by Metroplex Civic and Business Association found that visitors to Downtown Dallas are far more likely to become victims of crimes than visitors to Fort Worth’s downtown area.

“Even if it’s a simple ride back and forth to the store, people need to feel safe when they’re riding the trains or on the buses. And that’s really the impetus behind this,” said Gordon Shattles, assistant vice president of external relations for DART, per Fox 4.

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