Is Creuzot’s Theft Amnesty Policy Still in Effect?

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot | Image by NBC DFW

Mayor Eric Johnson and Dallas police are expressing concern over the number of property crimes in the city that seem to go unprosecuted by District Attorney John Creuzot’s office.

Creuzot announced in 2019 that his office would not prosecute thefts of personal items under $750 if they were stolen out of “necessity” — a policy opposed by many community leaders and stakeholders who argued the non-prosecution policy incentivized crime. Creuzot claimed the initiative was aimed at addressing the issue of overcrowding in area jails but has since publicly repealed the directive shortly after getting re-elected in November 2022.

An officer of the Dallas Police Department previously suggested to The Dallas Express that an ongoing lack of successful prosecutions has had a disheartening effect on at least some of the city’s officers:

“Our policy still says you will make the arrest, but it’s just the case gets dropped. So it’s hard to convince an officer to make it a priority to make the arrest when we know it’s going nowhere. That’s a difficult pill to swallow when you know you’re doing three hours of paperwork, stuck at the jail with a guy getting released, knowing nothing is going to happen. It’s part of the game. It is what it is.”

According to the City of Dallas crime analytics dashboard, property crimes have been creeping up steadily, with 64,415 reported incidents in 2020, 64,223 in 2021, 66,276 in 2022, and 69,895 in 2023.

For his part, Mayor Johnson said the issue of rising property crime rates has been, in part, a symptom of DPD’s staffing crisis.

“[Chief Eddie Garcia] and I have talked about it. It’s tough in a department that is short of officers,” Johnson told The Dallas Express. “Trade-offs do end up being made, unfortunately. It’s an unfortunate reality of modern policing in a major city.”

“Sometimes, the property crime stuff, if you have a violent crime issue, ends up having to take a little bit of a back seat to it because we have to prioritize life over everything else,” he continued, referring to DPD’s Violent Crime Reduction Plan, which has reduced violent crime in recent years.

“What you’d ultimately like to see is your violent crime … sufficiently under control [so] you can redeploy some of those resources back to property crime, which is what I’m hoping we can do,” he added.

DPD currently has only around 3,000 sworn officers on duty, which is well short of the 4,000 mark determined by a previous City analysis that asserted a resident-officer ratio along those lines would properly maintain public safety and bring down police response times.

Johnson said he has not spoken to Creuzot about any possible policy changes pertaining to the prosecution of property crimes. However, one issue he pointed to was the political nature of the district attorney position.

“I have not had a conversation with the district attorney about that — that’s a pretty political person,” he told The Dallas Express. “The district attorney is out there every four years trying to figure out how he’s going to get re-elected. He’s saying what he needs to say to keep his job. It’s a different type of conversation. It’s a less in-the-weeds, in-the-numbers type of conversation than what I have at least monthly with the chief.”

Creuzot’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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