Dallas Express vs. DMN vs. City of Dallas Murder Stats

Dallas Police on scene | Image by NBC FW

Over the past year, The Dallas Express has sought to provide Dallas residents with an understanding of crime in their city. That reporting — reflective of concern felt by citizens who themselves have been touched by crime or whose friends and loved ones have been affected by it — is based on rigorous analysis of data from public sources.

A recent noteworthy article from The Dallas Morning News provided a different number of murders for the year 2022 than we reported in our Murder Graphic and multiple other crime stories. The difference in these numbers may be illuminating for readers of both papers and all those interested in understanding Dallas’ crime statistics.

The Dallas Express relies on reputable public sources — the Dallas Police Department’s own data — to calculate both its murder graphic and the data that feeds our Crime Boss series. One of those sources, the Crime Analytics Dashboard, is updated daily and records alleged crimes such as murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, assault, robbery, and more.

The total number of murders in 2022, as reported by the City of Dallas Police Department, was 214. That is the number reported by The Dallas Express. The number reported by The Dallas Morning News was 243.

What accounts for the discrepancy of 29 murders? Let’s break it down.

The major differentiating factor is that the DMN counted justifiable homicides in its definition of murder, accounting for the bulk of additional reported killings.

The FBI defines justifiable homicide as “the killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty; or … the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen.”

There were 21 justifiable homicides in Dallas last year, and the DMN chose to include those homicides among murders, despite the killings not being considered crimes by lead policing authorities. The Dallas Express does not consider those to be “murders.”

The scope of justifiable homicide in the eyes of Texas state law is in fact even broader than the federal definition, empowering citizens to protect themselves and their property without criminal liability from those who would do harm.

Criminal homicides, on the other hand, are what The Dallas Express uses for its data reporting, a definition consistent with the FBI and the DPD and that explicitly excludes justifiable homicides while including nonnegligent manslaughter.

Both the FBI and DPD track murder per the guidelines of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which is supposed to provide “reliable statistics for use in law enforcement … [and] for students of criminal justice, researchers, the media, and the public.”

For this reason, The Dallas Express does not count justifiable homicides when reporting on murder and violent crime as it can distort the reality of criminal activity in Dallas.

The counting of those 21 incidents covers most of the 29-incident gap, but what about the remaining eight killings?

Jacqueline Pokuaa and Annette Flowers, the two Dallas Methodist Medical Center employees who were gunned down by convicted felon and parolee Nestor Hernandez in October, were not included in the 214 murders logged by the City in 2022.

Why? Because the medical center has its own law enforcement agency.

The murder-suicide at the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office in November did not count either, because the building where the slaying occurred was County property; the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation and assumed the crime statistic.

While these three murders, along with five others that happened on DART property, tabulated by the DMN, took place within the geographic confines of the city of Dallas, the Dallas Police Department was not the lead investigative agency.

Unfortunately, neither the City nor any of those individual agencies have a reliable mechanism to count those extra-jurisdictional crimes on a regular basis. Nor are there standardized requirements for when and how that information is reported by those individual agencies.

This makes comparing similar timeframes, say for the examination of monthly data or for more advanced longitudinal comparisons, difficult to do reliably. Overall, these reporting differences greatly reduce the opportunity for the regularized and standardized data collection required for reliable presentation to the public.

For this reason, readers can rest assured that The Dallas Express will continue in its monthly features — both the Murder Graphic and the popular Crime Boss series — to rely on verifiable data from City sources while reporting on newsworthy individual crimes across jurisdictions.

For readers who are interested in learning more or digging into the data themselves, The Dallas Express links regularly back to the City’s Crime Analytics Dashboard, but also provides a customized interactive Crime Map so residents can compare crime across all Dallas City Council districts.

Curious how The Dallas Express got the numbers that go into the Crime Score used to determine each month’s Crime Boss? Check out the methodology page here. And if you’re interested in even more detail behind the Murder Graphic feature launched last month, here’s an article that goes even deeper.

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  1. Concerned Voter

    Thank you for the clarification. DMN editors would never tell the readers how they come up with their data. That is not their way and that is one of the many reasons that I dropped the digital DMN. I agree with The Dallas Express when it comes to NOT reporting justifiable homicides. However, I do think, at least on an annual basis, The Dallas Express should consider homicides that occur in Dallas in non DPD jurisdictions. Overall crime is the responsibility of city leadership and if a homicide, other than justifiable homicide, occurs in the city, our elected leaders and DPD should have to account for that homicide.

  2. Michael

    A cop shooting a black person 19 times while eating a bag of chips is justifiable Homicide, because the cop was “FEARING FOR HIS LIFE” the crunching of the chips sounded like gun fire,in reality it’s old fashioned MURDER..PERIOD.

  3. Marilyn

    Thank you for an unbiased, informative article. Who, why, what, and where answered fully with extra research possibilities. Well done.

  4. David

    I agree with the Dallas Express’ way of counting murder rate. The DMN way of counting is more reflective of the extreme population spectrum’s point of view, thus my reason for not buying the DMN editions.

  5. Mary Ellen Bluntzer

    Thank you Dallas Express for clarifying your numbers. I would faint if the Dallas Morning News ever chose to publicly invite citizens to question their methods.


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