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Crime Increases Amid Creuzot’s ‘Reforms’

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Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot | Image by NBC DFW

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Soon after winning the election in November 2018, Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot announced major alterations to the way that his office would pursue the prosecution of crime in the county. The proposed changes, a significant departure from historical practice, attracted the attention of locals, statewide elected officials, and one of the largest police unions in Texas.

In an April 2019 release, the then-newly elected Democrat announced that he had begun bringing about the “transformation” of the criminal justice system, calling his pursuit of so-called “reforms” during his first 90 days on the job “impressive.”

Among many other items, Creuzot’s “reform policies” include refusing to prosecute first-time misdemeanor marijuana offenses, as well as theft of personal items with a value less than $750 that his office deems stolen out of “necessity.”

Creuzot’s decision had the material effect of selectively ceasing the prosecution of Class C and B misdemeanor theft, as $750 is the threshold for theft to be prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor under Texas law.

In an interview with the Texas Tribune soon after his policies were announced, Creuzot said, “I’ve been in criminal justice for 37 years, and I’ve seen people steal because they’re hungry, and I’ve seen the system react where the cases are dismissed or react in a more harsh manner where incarceration is requested, but the reality of it is putting a person in jail is not going to make their situation any better.”

Since Creuzot took office in January 2019, larceny and theft offenses have risen by 11.83%, according to DallasOpenData. So far in 2022, such crimes have increased by 14.40% when compared to the same period in 2019.

Soon after Creuzot’s policies were announced, Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a joint letter decrying Creuzot’s new policies, calling his actions a clear violation of his oath of office to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and this State.”

“Reform is one thing. Actions that abandon the rule of law and that could promote lawlessness are altogether different,” the two Republican elected officials stated.

Rebuking Creuzot for branding his plan as a “reform” package, the two chided, “Constitutionally, ‘reforming’ state law is the province of the Legislature.”

Calling Creuzot’s new plan for how to treat some crimes “unacceptable,” then-president of the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT) Sgt. Todd Harrison remarked, “When he was campaigning for the office, we don’t remember not prosecuting crime as part of his platform.”

CLEAT is one of the largest police unions in Texas.

Michael Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, told the Texas Tribune that Creuzot’s plan risked further eroding the relationship between the public and their local police.

Mata said that these policies create a “belief that it’s an option, that we are choosing to enforce law” selectively. He went on to say that if a citizen is adamant about filing a complaint, police are compelled to pursue it.

Yet to have the district attorney later decline to prosecute “erodes an already eroding relationship with the public” for law enforcement, he added.

“This isn’t helping us,” said Mata.

Despite local and state opposition, Creuzot has not backed down from these policies for prosecuting crime. In his recent party primary, Creuzot once again defeated Elizabeth Frizell, who campaigned this time around on ending what she called his “dangerous” theft policies.

“I don’t think when someone steals from you, you should feel like I can’t call the police, no one’s going to help me, no one’s going to do anything,” Frizell told Inside Texas Politics.

Creuzot successfully secured his party’s nomination but is now set for a general election in November with a broader electorate. In yet another rematch, he faces Republican Faith Johnson, the incumbent whom he defeated in the 2018 general election.

Johnson has made Creuzot’s theft prosecution policies a cornerstone of her campaign. When asked at a campaign event if she would rescind this policy, she declared to cheers, “Absolutely…I’m going to abide by the law.”

Note: This article was updated on September 13, 2022, at 6:35 p.m. to include additional information.

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

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Paxton H Gay
Paxton H Gay
2 months ago

The Former Judge is a Dirty No Good Rotten, and Vile Person. He was a Judge in the era of the ’90’s when Lew Sterrit Justice Center along with Dallas Police Department was railroading alot of Young Black Men to fill up State Jails, and Prisons,I know this for a FACT,because I stood before him,and Public Defenders we’re just DIRTY,but by God’s Grace I’ve never been to Prison, but they sure as Hell tried. That’s why they got rid of Craig Watkins,because he unveiled the truth on cases, and the Department had to pin(expose) stuff onhim as well, because he was freeing the innocent

ed lopez
ed lopez
2 months ago

Crime has increased all over Texas, is Creuzots to blame ?

Ran
Ran
Reply to  ed lopez
2 months ago

Yes, and open boarders and all other democratically ran cities are to blame.

LCP75050
LCP75050
Reply to  Ran
2 months ago

A typical political hack response.

Arlene koeppen
Arlene koeppen
Reply to  LCP75050
2 months ago

. . . and a response that is a grammatical trainwreck

John Joyce
John Joyce
Reply to  ed lopez
2 months ago

Can’t speak for all of Texas but certainly yes in Dallas. Criminals quickly learned that if they keep their thefts at a certain level they won’t be prosecuted. Anyone can see that’s going to increase/encourage crime, and guess what it has in Dallas and also other areas in our country where we’ve seen similar DA “don’t follow the law” policies. DAs are supposed to enforce the law not pick and choose to enforce only the laws they personally like. If they or others don’t like the law, campaign to change the law. He needs to do his job.

Anthony
Anthony
Reply to  John Joyce
2 months ago

It’s called “prosecutorial discretion.” And it’s as simple as that. It’s not some new fangled made up legal concept that’s never been done or heard of. So why all the drama about it? Oh yeah, it’s an election cycle and opponents need a hobby horse (issue) to ride on.

Janet
Janet
Reply to  ed lopez
2 months ago

I agree. Are those who want to lock them up and throw away the key willing to pay the extra tax money it would take to provide the manpower, facilities, and court time to arrest, charge and convict these “criminals”? I think not. You are correct. Crime has increased all over Texas, including places that profess to be “tough on crime”. Makes good campaign rhetoric, but the reality is nothing will change unless the community comes together to find solutions instead of pointing fingers. Any volunteers who aren’t racist care to apply?

T-Mac
T-Mac
Reply to  ed lopez
2 months ago

Yes. He’s part of the problem.

C-Lei
C-Lei
2 months ago

Is he blind? Did he not bother to look at CA to see what their similar “catch & release” has done? Crime is out of control there. They now have gang-organized theft where a dozen or more street scum raid a business at the same time and take just up to the limit per person not to get prosecuted. The business ends up losing many thousands. These insane democRAT ideas only worsen crime. Creuzots says they steal out of need! For hunger maybe and jail doesn’t help them! Sure it will. That’s free housing, clothing, and food…

Jake
Jake
2 months ago

Obviously one of the globalists “great reset” policies. Idea being to destroy advanced civilization such that a few can seize wealth and power. A baseline to developed cultures is a baseline of civility and this means robbery and theft aren’t tolerated. I could care less about pot, but by allowing sources of illegal activities it brings with it all the OTHER crime elements.

Problem is this is TX…..this ‘prosecutor’ would be well advised to understand that not only is TX a castle state but–under specific state law–allows for the use of deadly force under a relatively broad set of conditions.

As such, he’s not doing even the criminal any favors. Rather than serving a little time in jail, offenders are likely to wind up dead. Business owners will rightfully defend their property as they have an inherent and legal right to do. Jailing a stealer actually does him a favor in that he has an opportunity to clean up his act before he winds up six feet under.

Jake gallerano
Jake gallerano
2 months ago

Really an infantile analysis of the state of the criminality of our judicial system. It may be impossible for serious discussion of the plague of problems we have in our institutions while campaign season is pouring money into partisan depiction of the issues. Unfortunately, this little bit moronic candidate marketing is part of the problem, if not the cause of this divisive state, or the media delineation of the same. I can’t help but view this article as a campaign marketing piece. Of course it’s typical of what too often passes as journalism, but that doesn’t excuse the attempt to manipulate readers.

Bob
Bob
2 months ago

Use voting machines? Mail in’s??

Loise
Loise
Reply to  Bob
2 months ago

I support Creuzot, small crime is not the real issue. whlie white collar crime and gun violence are running rampant . Stop sweating the small crimes and focus on i.e white collar, gun violence.

Tom
Tom
2 months ago

I don’t see any evidence cited in this article showing that crime has increased. In particular, there’s no evidence cited showing crime related to Creuzot’s policy changes has increased. Finally, there’s no evidence or analysis showing that any of this unproven crime surge is because of those policy changes. If there is indeed a crime surge, there’s no evidence showing it might not be because of the pandemic, but instead can convincingly be attributed to these limited policy rules of thumb. In other words, Mr. Geist has expressed a political opinion without a shred of evidence supporting it.

Loise
Loise
Reply to  Tom
2 months ago

Eric Geist, show the people the data you have to support your statement. Or is it just all made up because you have nothing of value to support your negativity concerning Creuzot.

A K
A K
2 months ago

The headline says crime increased… Where are those statistics? His policies seem like common sense. Marijuana charges are a waste of taxpayer time and only serve to keep people in the cycle of poverty. Stealing out of necessity, like if you are starving, is dystopian symbol. And frankly, law enforcement chooses ALL THE TIME which laws they want to enforce. Sometimes you speed and the cop doesn’t even pull you over. Or gives you a warning. That’s a single person choosing not to enforce a law. So Mata may need reevaluate what he said.