Is Crime Down in Dallas? Yes and No

Police lights and crime scene tape | Image by Ajax9/Getty Images

Despite some progress made against violent crime rates in Dallas, criminality overall remains high.

The Dallas Express recently analyzed Dallas crime data, finding that the first quarter of 2024 saw the lowest number of violent crime incidents since 2020. There had been 63 murders as of April 15 for a year-over-year decrease of 27.6%, while assaults had dipped by 22.9%, per data from the City’s crime analytics dashboard.

DX launched its own deep-dive into crime figures to grasp better the findings given during a Dallas Police Department presentation evaluating its crime reduction plan at the recent April 9 meeting with City leaders. While Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia and other DPD officials suggested that now was not the time to let up on crime, they pointed to considerable headway made in certain areas.

“When I opened this past week’s crime reports, I just couldn’t believe it. Murders are down … and I know you always say, ‘Don’t celebrate yet,’ right? You don’t want to jinx it, but that’s 21 less people murdered this year compared to last year. That’s extremely meaningful. And so, really, thank you for your hard work,” District 12 Council Member Cara Mendelsohn applauded officials from the Dallas Police Department during a public safety committee meeting on April 9.

At the same time, when all crime categories are considered, criminality actually increased every year from 2020 to 2023. So far this year, the total crime offenses recorded to date are just 5.9% short of the year prior, thanks in large part to the rate of robberies and family violence crimes remaining more or less stable while motor vehicle theft and drug offenses are up.

Moreover, last week’s assessment of DPD’s crime reduction plan revealed mixed results three years in.

The plan involves three steps, beginning with focusing on policing smaller hotspot areas citywide.

DPD noted that hotspot policing had resulted in an average 33.3% drop in violent crime between May to November 2022 and May to November 2023 — the seven-month periods studied in the evaluation. Yet, the catchment areas saw a bump of 6.0%, especially in the north-central and northwest divisions. Moreover, while robberies targeting individuals dropped by 10.4%, those targeting businesses jumped by 21.1%.

The second step in DPD’s plan has involved setting up a place network investigation (PNI) task force to focus on crime-prone areas. Between 2022 and 2023, operations have been established in five apartment complexes at 3550 E. Overton Rd., 11760 Ferguson Rd., 11511 Ferguson Rd., 3535 Webb Chapel Rd., and 4722 Meadow St. The results have been positive, with more work needed to be done at certain locations, especially Webb Chapel, which is a newer PNI intervention target.

The third step is a focused deterrence program mobilizing multiple stakeholders to target those most likely to engage in violent behavior. DPD pointed to early results suggesting a positive impact on reducing crime, yet it is still early in the game. The hiring of a new manager for the deterrence program is currently underway, as well as new efforts to loop the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in to reduce recidivism among parolees. Federal data suggests that over 80% of prisoners with juvenile records end up committing new offenses upon release.

“I’m confident that we can get [DA participation in the deterrence program] going because we have the data to suggest that it’s absolutely worthwhile,” Garcia said during the meeting.

“As you heard me say many times, we are not a cure to the disease. We’re the fever reducer. A cure to the disease is working on these individuals and getting them to a better life and reinvesting in people in places. And so with that being said, I think it’d be worthwhile for all the groups to come together on this endeavor.”

A considerable obstacle to reducing crime in Dallas is the shortage of officers within DPD. Just 3,000 sworn-in personnel are fielded despite a City report recommending a force of 4,000 to ensure public safety. Meanwhile, the Dallas City Council allocated just $654 million to DPD this fiscal year, far less than the spending approved for police in other high-crime jurisdictions, including New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

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