Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, a recent convert to the Republican Party, says Democrats fail to take violent crime seriously.
During an interview with Fox News this week, Johnson discussed how American cities can do a better job tackling violent crime. He also addressed comments made by some of his colleagues on the Dallas City Council.
“It all starts at the top in a city,” he said. “The mayor, along with the police chief, have to set the tone, and they have to set the policy to keep residents of their city safe. The problem has become that Democrats were not willing to say that violent crime is a problem in their city and that it’s a problem they could actually do something about.”
Johnson said he was primarily addressing Democrats because Democrats control most major cities in the United States.
He added that violent crime is too often attributed to external factors such as the education system, the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic, and society at large.
“The reality is those things have always been present. We’re always going to have economic ups and downs. We’re always going to have challenges,” Johnson said, per Fox News. “But what we haven’t always had are the levels of homicides and other forms of violent crime that we’re having right now. In Dallas, I dug in pretty firmly against this whole idea of defunding the police, and I said we’re going to do things differently here, and we’ve had different results.”
Council Member Adam Bazaldua (District 7) previously said that “a lot of the successes [Johnson] has been touting, like Dallas being one of the safest large cities in America, [are] because of policies passed by a majority Democrat city council.”
Johnson said in the interview that he was grateful his colleagues on the city council came to support pro-public safety policies but noted that those policies were not passed without arguments and disagreements.
“The reality is [that] it was always a challenge,” he told Fox News. “There were reasons why we had a lot of disagreements, and there was a lot of coverage for a long time about a lot of the arguments and the debates that happened around Dallas City Hall around how we need to respond to requests to defund our police.”
Johnson noted that proposals to defund the police budget were put forth in the past. He said some council members “wanted to take money away from the police department — largely symbolically, for no real policy reason — and give it to non-law enforcement uses like solar panels and environmental issues.”
“Eventually, after I really went after them pretty hard … they changed their tune,” he said. “It’s not to pick on the Dallas City Council. I’m talking about leadership at the top. I’m talking about the mayors and the police chiefs of the country [who] really need to be treating the violent crime problem like something that is within our control.”
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia recently discussed his approach to violent crime and community policing in the latest episode of The Dallas Express Podcast.
“We need to hire, frankly, more police officers and do more of the things we’re doing here in Dallas, like hotspot policing that’s been working for us,” Johnson.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the Dallas Police Department has been seriously understaffed for years, maintaining fewer than 3,200 officers even though a City analysis determined that some 4,000 were necessary to properly maintain public safety.
The effects of the shortage are apparent in Downtown Dallas, which logs significantly more criminal incidents compared to Fort Worth’s downtown area. The latter is reportedly patrolled by a special neighborhood police unit that works alongside private security guards.
According to the City of Dallas crime analytics dashboard, there has been a 12.8% year-over-year increase in murders as of October 29.