Reeling from its police staffing shortage, Dallas was recently ranked as one of the unsafest cities in the United States.
Personal finance company WalletHub published a ranking of 182 cities, taking into account 41 relevant metrics like crime rates, traffic accidents, public health issues, and natural disasters.
“No one can avoid all danger, however, and we take on a certain level of risk based on where we choose to live. Some cities are simply better at protecting their residents from harm,” reads an introduction to the study’s results.
Dallas came in at No.165 overall based on three critical dimensions: home and community safety, natural disaster risk, and financial safety. Dallas ranked in the bottom 10% for home and community safety, ranking No.168 out of 182.
The Dallas Police Department has been understaffed for years, with the department fielding fewer than 3,200 officers at present. A City analysis recommends that a city the size of Dallas needs about 4,000 officers to properly maintain public safety.
Downtown Dallas has been especially impacted by the shortage, regularly logging higher crime rates than Fort Worth’s downtown area. The latter is reportedly patrolled by a special neighborhood police unit and private security officers.
“This is a significant issue right now throughout the country. With the vilification of police officers in the media and by politicians, many people with the talent and skillset are not applying like they once did. To compound this issue, police officers are retiring and seeking other opportunities in record numbers,” said Robert W. Allen, an MPS in emergency management at Tulane University, according to WalletHub.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Mayor Eric Johnson has been touting some of the gains made through DPD’s Violent Crime Reduction Plan. While aggravated assaults, robberies, and sexual assaults have dipped down, murders continue to stack up.
There have been 198 murders committed within Dallas city limits as of October 11, marking a 10% increase over the 180 murders logged in the same period last year, according to the City of Dallas crime analytics overview dashboard.
Furthermore, Dallas has been hitting record highs when it comes to motor vehicle thefts, with more incidents reported than the rest of the metroplex combined, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. Some 14,664 auto theft offenses have been clocked so far this year, a 40.8% year-over-year spike.
“Anytime our public safety workforce or operating budgets are restricted or downgraded, there are negative consequences for citizens’ overall safety,” said Laurie J. Holien, associate professor and program director of homeland security and emergency management at Idaho State University, per WalletHub. “Staffing shortages within police departments can slow response time and limit the availability of officers to receive ongoing training and participate in regional exercises to expand and maximize their effectiveness in the field.”
Correction: This article was updated at 12:40 p.m. on October 16 to fix a typo that had Dallas ranked No.65 overall, when the study actually noted the city came in at No.165 out of 182.