Criminologists and local community leaders are voicing concern that Dallas could see a resurgence of violent crime despite the efforts made by the Dallas Police Department to keep it down.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, DPD has been working to implement its data-driven Violent Crime Reduction Plan, which divides the city into football field-sized grids and allocates police resources based on violent crime rates in the grids.
While there have been some hiccups, like when a purported ransomware attack allegedly affected the City’s crime data, hindering DPD’s ability to base its deployment moves on up-to-date data, police in Dallas have managed to bring violent crime down, even as their department continues to suffer a serious staffing shortage.
“In most places, you know, for the past 26 years I’ve been studying crime across the United States, I can tell you that unfortunately, it does come back. … The problem is, is that just like in medicine, you have to make sure that the patient, once it’s recovered, that the patient follows the protocol and continues to be looked at by the physician,” said Tarleton State University criminologist Alex Del Carmen, speaking with NBC 5 DFW.
As of September 13, aggravated assaults, robberies, and family violence sexual assaults are down citywide compared to last year, according to a DPD report However, murders and non-family violence sexual assaults are up 6.7% and 6.9%, respectively.
Furthermore, Dallas has also seen significant spikes in motor vehicle thefts and shoplifting. Auto thefts have jumped more than 36.6%, with DPD logging 12,835 incidents this year. Shoplifting has also been on the rise, with 1,795 incidents reported, marking a 54.9% increase over last year.
DPD currently maintains a force of fewer than 3,200 officers. A City analysis previously recommended a city the size of Dallas needs about 4,000 officers to be considered adequately staffed.
Downtown Dallas, in particular, has been affected by the City’s police shortage, consistently logging higher crime rates than Fort Worth’s downtown area. The latter is patrolled by a dedicated neighborhood police unit and private security guards.
“Police are the Tylenol, we are the Advil to reduce the fever,” Police Chief Eddie Garcia said, according to NBC 5.
Garcia told the news outlet that more would need to be done to ensure that previous hotspots stay safe, noting that DPD will also be employing a “focused deterrence” strategy by making contact with repeat offenders and connecting them with social services and resources in a bid to keep them from reoffending.
In a previous interview with The Dallas Express, Louis Darrouzet of the Metroplex Civic & Business Association said that keeping crime down in Dallas is the most important thing City leaders should be focused on.
“There’s the supply and demand, right? Are there enough police officers if we need 1,000? Can we find 1,000? Is that even possible?” said Darrouzet. “I don’t know the exact answer. … The goal is not to arrest a bunch of people. But if people are doing repeat offenses, you want to stop them from hurting people and hopefully correct that behavior into something more productive for society.”
Anti-violence activist and community leader Mar Butler told NBC 5 that he is concerned that violent crime could tick back up when police are drawn to another hotspot.
“They migrate to another area. So, therefore, if they knew that this was once a crime area before, what’s to stop it from becoming another crime, high crime grid again,” Butler said.