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Mayor Johnson, Chief Garcia Kick Off ‘Summer of Safety’

Summer of Safety
Mayor Eric Johnson and Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia speak at community gathering | Image by Justin DeSales/The Dallas Express

Mayor Eric Johnson and Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia hosted a community gathering on Monday at the Mattie Nash-Myrtle Davis Recreation Center to kick off the third annual Summer of Safety Campaign, which aims to reduce crime in the coming months.

Johnson and Garcia were joined at the event by Dallas City Council Member Omar Narvaez (District 6), interim City Manager Kim Tolbert, Park and Recreation Board President Arun Agarwal, Dallas Park and Recreation Director John Jenkins, Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde, Dallas Public Library Director Jo Giudice, and South Oak Cliff High School alum Derrick Battie.

The mayor prefaced the event by discussing the gains seen in the City’s violent crime statistics, noting that “the goal is to be the safest major city in this country, and we are well on our way to that.”

“Violent crime in the city of Dallas, folks, it’s a fact, decreased for three years in a row. No other major city can say that,” said Johnson. “It’s not an accident. There’s a reason why Dallas is achieving what it’s achieving, and it has everything to do with the data-driven approach.”

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the Dallas Police Department has implemented a hotspot policing model targeting violent crime. While offenses like robbery and aggravated assault have seen steep decreases, overall crime in the city has been steadily creeping up amid DPD’s longstanding police shortage.

Only around 3,000 sworn personnel are policing the city, despite an analysis advising a force of roughly 4,000 would be necessary to properly ensure public safety. Meanwhile, the Dallas City Council allocated just $654 million to the department this fiscal year, less than the taxpayer spending approved for police in other high-crime jurisdictions like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Johnson said on Monday that “it is a fact of criminology” that crime increases during the summer, largely due to the number of children who are no longer busy during the day with school.

“So they are susceptible of being involved in a crime. It’s not just as a perpetrator. It’s as a victim. So we have a real concern about our children being in harm’s way and being a victim of a crime during the summer,” he explained.

“So we are going to be proactive about protecting them in the summer. So three years ago, we came up with this thing to keep kids in our community safe all summer long,” he said.

Johnson discussed the different programs that would be implemented throughout the summer, including events related to reading, writing, swimming, sports, and more.

Garcia took the podium after Johnson to discuss the ways in which DPD will strive to help keep kids safe during the summer months.

The police chief said the department’s goal during the summer is to “keep our kids busy” and build relationships with the community to show that they can trust the officers around them, no matter the time of the year.

“We’re grateful for the trust and relationships we continue to grow this season. It is so important to show our kids they have a future here in Dallas,” said Garcia. “This is not the time to give up. We cannot do it alone. This is our time to put our foot on the gas and work even harder.”

The mayor explained that one way the City would promote its Summer of Safety is through the introduction of LED billboards showing details about events and opportunities for children.

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