Downtown Crime Outpaces Cowtown’s Safer City Center

Police officer behind police tape
Police officer behind police tape | Image by VDB Photos/Shutterstock

Downtown Dallas saw significantly more motor vehicle thefts, assaults, and robberies than Fort Worth’s downtown area in August.

The Metroplex Civic & Business Association (MCBA) conducted a comparative analysis of the two city centers based on publicly available crime statistics. Data from the City of Dallas only recently became available after months of lingering tech issues purportedly caused by an alleged ransomware attack back in May, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

In a press release announcing the results, MCBA made note of the Dallas Police Department’s ongoing staffing shortage and its implications for improving the city center.

“Police Chief Garcia has been pushing to hire more officers but seems to be losing them faster than he can hire them. Dallas needs an additional ~1,000 police officers to bring crime levels in line with Ft. Worth. 911 call response times have exploded from minutes to hours, and sometimes, the police never come,” reads the press release. “Crime is a problem that must be solved prior [to] the Convention Center being re-built, or Dallas will suffer the same fate as cities like San Francisco and Chicago.”

The Dallas Express spoke with MCBA CEO Louis Darrouzet about the dynamics at play between crime and local policies at the city and county levels.

Darrouzet suggested that the City Council has been putting a greater strain on residents by not dealing with the significant tax increases borne out by rising property values.

“The population of Dallas has decreased 3.36% in three years. At the same time, property tax revenue, which is the largest revenue stream for the City, has increased 35% in three years,” Darrouzet said. “They’re collecting more in property tax each year, and we have less population to get that from.”

“At the fringe end of that, you have people that are just trying to make ends meet. And when you get someone in that situation, you’re going to see what starts to look like crime spreading,” Darrouzet continued. “I’m not saying that it’s okay, but there are other levers we can be pulling as a city, right? Getting your police force fully staffed, making sure you’re reducing taxes as much as possible, making sure the City is as efficient as possible so that people aren’t paying unnecessary fees and taxes that they already can’t afford on top of inflation.”

He referred The Dallas Express to MCBA’s comparative analysis of crime in the hearts of Dallas and Fort Worth.

“I think the numbers that probably stand out the most are for motor vehicle thefts. There were two in downtown Fort Worth, and there were 87 in Downtown Dallas just in August,” said Darrouzet. “That’s significant. That’s a huge difference.”

MCBA also found that there were 12 times more assault offenses committed in Downtown Dallas, with DPD logging 85 incidents compared to downtown Fort Worth’s seven. Additionally, Downtown Dallas racked up 119 theft offenses and 12 robberies in August. Downtown Fort Worth clocked 27 thefts and one robbery.

Notably, downtown Fort Worth is patrolled by a dedicated police unit and private security officers.

“I heard the other day that there’s more people visiting the Stockyards in downtown Fort Worth right now than are going to San Antonio’s river walk,” Darrouzet said. “That to me is a huge shift. They’ve created a safe place where you can go be in the community with your family and not be worried about your car getting stolen or getting assaulted on the side of the road.”

Two issues at the county level might also be playing a role in Downtown Dallas’ high crime rates. As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Dallas County jail has been hovering near capacity, resulting in county officials releasing prisoners early. Additionally, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot has in the past limited prosecutions of certain crimes, a decision that saw many alleged offenders walk free and potentially encouraged future offenses due to lack of consequences.

“If I was a police officer, that would very quickly make me feel unincentivized and make me discouraged to even be a police officer. I bring people in for breaking the law, and they just let them go,” Darrouzet said. “Let’s call it what it is, right? The county is operating the jail, the City is operating the police force, and the City is bringing individuals to the county that the jail can’t take. So how do we manage that?”

“I just know what we’re doing is not working and that if we cannot get crime under control, we’re going to keep losing people, and people will feel less and less safe,” he added.

A previous City analysis advised officials that a city the size of Dallas needs about three officers for every 1,000 residents, putting an adequate staffing level at around 4,000 officers. DPD currently maintains a force of fewer than 3,200.

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