Civic Group Attributes Downtown Crime to Police Shortage

Dallas Skyline
Dallas Skyline | Image by f11photo/Shutterstock

The Dallas Express spoke with Louis Darrouzet, CEO of the Metroplex Civic & Business Association, about the long-standing disparity between crime rates in Downtown Dallas and Fort Worth’s city center.

Referencing the latest comparative data compiled by the Metroplex Civic & Business Association (MCBA) for the month of October, Darrouzet told The Dallas Express that a lack of police resources has left the neighborhood vulnerable to crime.

“I think Police Chief [Eddie] Garcia hit the nail on the head when he said, ‘We’re not going to arrest our way into lower crime,’ right? Of course, there will be people that need to be arrested. However, having a healthy enough police presence on the street is more of a deterrent than anything else. … Dallas is a large area, and because of how understaffed, under-resourced [the department is] they’re spread thin,” he said.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the Dallas Police Department has been experiencing an ongoing staffing shortage, maintaining fewer than 3,200 officers in the field. A city analysis recommends that a municipality the size of Dallas have about three for every 1,000 residents, putting an ideal staffing level at around 4,000 officers.

“If you’ve got police being consistent community partners walking up and down the streets, getting to know all the businesses and the lay of the land, you know? If [the police are] there consistently, the people who are looking to commit crimes aren’t going to go there, in theory,” reasoned Darrouzet.

Last month, DPD logged 96 motor vehicle thefts in Downtown Dallas. Fort Worth’s downtown area only had four such offenses recorded. Similarly, Dallas’ city center outpaced Fort Worth’s in terms of assaults by a factor of 11, clocking 97 and nine incidents, respectively.

“If we look at what’s going on in Fort Worth, there’s not as much of an open window to commit crime. If someone was trying to decide if they were going to steal something or not, if there’s no police around, maybe they steal it. If there’s a lot of police around, maybe they don’t. It’s about the volume of police,” Darrouzet said.

“The trick here is going to be getting police on the street, being a part of the community in the Central Business District. That’s what they do in Fort Worth, and it works,” he added.

Downtown Fort Worth is patrolled by a dedicated neighborhood police unit that works alongside private security guards.

In addition to auto thefts and assaults, Downtown Dallas has also been logging considerably more larceny/theft offenses and instances of vandalism and destruction of property. There were also almost twice as many burglaries there last month than in Fort Worth’s downtown area.

Darrouzet also spoke about a particular dynamic playing out in the local criminal justice system, which has been hampered by Dallas County jail facilities nearing capacity, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. According to Darrouzet, such a dynamic has led to many suspects and would-be inmates either being released early or avoiding incarceration altogether.

“It’s not that I want people to go to jail, but if people aren’t being punished for committing crimes, they’re going to keep committing crimes, right? … If there’s no repercussions for your actions, why would people change?” he said.

In addition to Downtown Dallas’ high crime rates, the area has also been hard-hit by the city’s homelessness and vagrancy crisis.

Dallas residents have said they have been frustrated with homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling in their neighborhoods and throughout the rest of the city, according to polling conducted by The Dallas Express.

Haven for Hope in San Antonio, with its “one-stop-shop” model for homeless services, has previously been credited with a 77% reduction in homelessness in the city and has polled favorably among Dallas residents.

Mayor Eric Johnson visited the Haven for Hope campus — which provides social services on the same site as its emergency housing — in August. However, it remains to be seen whether Dallas city officials will consider such a model.

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