The Dallas police chief weighed in on the city’s violent start to the new year, with five homicides occurring over the span of four days.
In a recent interview with WFAA, Police Chief Eddie Garcia doubled down on his department’s approach to violent crime amid a bloody beginning to 2024.
As previously covered in The Dallas Express, the violent crime rate dipped slightly in 2023 thanks to the Dallas Police Department’s ongoing violent crime reduction plan, which involves increasing officer patrols in smaller hot spots across the city as a focused deterrent.
Violent offenses overall in 2023 — including aggravated assault, robbery, and rape — fell by 13.7% year over year, according to the City’s crime analytics dashboard.
Conversely, 2023 saw a 15% bump in criminal homicides — 246 logged in total — compared to 2022. The persistently high murder rate points to the dampening effect of DPD’s staffing woes. Approximately 3,000 officers are currently fielded despite a City report recommending a force of around 4,000 to effectively promote public safety in Dallas.
According to Garcia, roughly 70% of recent murder victims had been involved in criminal activity or some other kind of high-risk behavior. In contrast, approximately the same number of victims and suspects knew each other in some capacity.
“These aren’t necessarily random acts of violence that are occurring,” he said, highlighting that one of the latest homicide victims was a known drug dealer.
Recently, Garcia joined Antong Lucky from Urban Specialists, an anti-violence activist group, on a trip to Tennessee to speak to prisoners about to be paroled back to Dallas.
Lucky told WFAA that he believed Garcia’s visit with these offenders was impactful. Alongside Lucky’s work within the community, these initiatives will hopefully prove themselves to be a powerful deterrent to violent crime, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
“I think if we stay that course that, eventually, for 2024, we are going to see a decrease in those murders,” said Lucky.
Where last year’s murders occurred is also telling, with Garcia explaining that approximately 60% happened inside apartment complexes — “out of sight” from the usual police patrols.
“We certainly need to work closer with our apartments and managers and ownership of apartments to do our very best to ensure that they’re as safe as possible,” Garcia said.
While this entails technology-driven measures, such as installing security cameras, Garcia suggested that long-term investments within the communities — from the people to the places they live — would have wide-reaching effects.
“I say this all the time, but there are areas in the city that look hopeless. And when you live in hopeless situations, you do hopeless things that we have to respond to,” Garcia said.
Downtown Dallas has been dealing with high levels of crime, homelessness, and vagrancy, as extensively covered in The Dallas Express. This drives down the property value in the area, deterring investors who then opt for other areas within Dallas-Fort Worth.
Downtown Fort Worth sees considerably less crime than Downtown Dallas due in part to its being patrolled by a specialized neighborhood police unit and private security guards. Cowtown has also garnered considerable development interest, such as a $33 million project to renovate the Bob Simpson Building and open it as a Residence Inn.