Lack of 4K Cops, Homeless Problem Degrades Downtown Dallas

Downtown Dallas | Image by dibrova

The latest comparative study on downtown crime in Dallas and Fort Worth by the Metroplex Civic & Business Association was recently released, indicating that criminal activity in the former is still outpacing the latter.

In a news release, the Metroplex Civic & Business Association (MCBA) noted that some categories of crime ticked up last month in Fort Worth’s city center while some dipped down in Dallas’. However, Dallas still clocked considerably more serious offenses — such as assaults, motor vehicle thefts, and larceny/theft crimes — than Cowtown’s downtown area.

MCBA claimed that the data the organization compiled may not even be truly representative of the situation, noting that residents have been referred to an online reporting system for certain categories of “non-emergency” crime. The implementation of the reporting system was prompted by the serious officer shortage at the Dallas Police Department, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

“The City of Dallas is continuing to lose police officers and now has barely over 3,000 officers. Higher levels of police presence make crime less likely to occur. The City of Dallas must get crime under control if it hopes to retain the businesses that are there,” the release read. “Additionally, as more high-rise office buildings are converted into residential units, they become increasingly less attractive if crime remains high.”

A City analysis estimates that a jurisdiction the size of Dallas needs around 4,000 officers in order to properly maintain public safety. The shortage has had a detrimental impact on police response times, The Dallas Express reported.

“The Dallas Police Department reported on December 4th of 2023 that the response times for priority ‘3’ crimes averaged between 1.5-7 hours depending on the division. This means in the worst division someone could commit a priority 3 crime and then drive all the way to Memphis Tennessee before the police responded,” the press release reads.

It went on to note that many residents may not even be reporting some crimes because of how long it takes for an officer to show up.

According to MCBA’s study, there have been 14 times more motor vehicle thefts in Downtown Dallas than in Fort Worth’s city center, as well as four times the number of assault offenses and four times the number of thefts unrelated to vehicles.

Downtown Dallas has also been dealing with widespread homelessness and vagrancy.

“[Vagrants] are individuals that end up staying on the street longer, the ones that need addiction support and mental health treatment, the ones stealing to eat. They’re assaulting people to get money. It creates a dynamic where they’re kind of in a fight or flight situation; they’re trying to survive,” MCBA CEO Louis Darrouzet previously told The Dallas Express.

More than 80% of respondents to a poll conducted by The Dallas Express registered their concern with the amount of homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling going on in Dallas. Such polling also suggests significant support for the “one-stop-shop” model employed by San Antonio’s Haven for Hope, which has been credited with reducing homelessness in the city by 77%.

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