Dallas’ Public Safety Committee was informed on Monday that violent crime was up nearly 6% year-to-date within the grids targeted by Dallas Police Department’s (DPD) Violent Crime Reduction Plan.
The Public Safety Committee is chaired by Councilman Adam McGough (District 10), with Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn (District 12) serving as vice chair. The rest of the committee is composed of council members Tennell Atkins (District 8), Jesse Moreno (District 2), Jaime Resendez (District 5), Casey Thomas (District 3), and Gay Donnell Willis (District 13).
DPD Major Jason Scoggins briefed the committee that violent crime had increased 6% within the Phase 7 Grids year-to-date through January 31, when the data were pulled.
The Violent Crime Reduction Plan assigns “officers to be highly visible on these grids identified by crime analysis as the most violence-prone and at times when violence is most often reported. At other high crime grids, designated teams of officers will focus on the surveillance, deterrence, and arrest of repeat violent offenders.”
Murders had increased by 9.5%, and aggravated assaults went up by 14.75% from the previous year in the Phase 7 grids, according to Scoggins.
“People try to solve their conflicts by shooting other people,” Scoggins said, referring to the increase in homicides.
On the other hand, robberies had fallen by around 20%. Potentially contributing to this reduction is Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot’s decision to end his theft amnesty policy, as reported by The Dallas Express.
Looking at the trend line for violent crime citywide, the victim count ticked upward, although the incident count went down over the same period, according to the presentation.
“What this means is we are having [fewer] incidents, with more victims,” Scoggins continued. “The incidents are low but in very populated areas.”
It was noted that part of the reason for the increase in victims is due to how that number is generated. A DPD representative offered the example that, if someone fires a gun at a specific individual in the general vicinity of others, people who were not the intended target are included in the victim count, as they have experienced a life-threatening event.
According to the DPD Crime Analytics Dashboard, 105 more violent crimes were reported as of February 13 than at the same point in the previous year. This represents more than an 8.8% increase YTD.
Police Chief Eddie Garcia also attended the meeting and addressed the committee, emphasizing that the decrease in robberies and incidents showed progress despite the increased number of victims.
“Hope, as we know, is the worst type of strategy,” Chief Garcia said, explaining how DPD is combatting the increase in violent crime. “We are not sitting back, and we are using our resources.”
“We are all trying to move our resources around … in order to reduce incidents,” he continued. “There are successes, and there are challenges.”
Mendelsohn emphasized that apartments have been crime hotspots, contributing to the increase of affected people despite a decrease in incidents.
“I think we need to do more upfront before they are even built,” she continued, suggesting that city council could require new apartments be made in accordance with law enforcement recommendations for criminal abatement.
When asked what DPD needed to continue doing their job, Chief Garcia explained, “We need to grow as a department. We need staff … That’s number one.”
“There is not a police chief in the nation who would not say they need more police officers on the street,” Garcia added.
“Well, let’s get you more,” Mendelsohn said.
The next agenda item focused on recruitment and retention strategy. Earlier in the day, the Workforce, Education, and Equity committee received data showing that DPD had 856 vacancies — representing 19% of the department, as reported by The Dallas Express.
Other council members also emphasized solutions to the apartment problem, and Chair McGough sought more information concerning DPD strategy to improve apartment safety.
“How many apartments are we touching? How many units?” McGough asked, requesting that such numbers be included in future presentations. “I’d like to see that.”
“I would like to commend the men and women of this police department,” Garcia concluded. “They are doing everything they can.”
Editor’s Note – February 14, 10:30 a.m.
An earlier version of this story misstated that violent crime was up 6% across the city of Dallas. The data presented in the committee meeting instead referred only to crimes committed within the specific “grids” targeted by the Violent Crime Reduction Plan.
In fact, violent crime is up 8.8% citywide as of February 13, according to data retrieved from the DPD Crime Analytics Dashboard.