Opinion: Safety Plan Without the Safety

police patrol car
Police patrol car lights | Image by Aleksandr_Alekseev

On Tuesday, July 5, the city of Dallas announced a series of new public safety initiatives aimed at reducing violent crime. In a written memo to the City Manager and City Attorney, Mayor Eric Johnson said the initiatives are part of “a holistic approach to reducing violent crime in Dallas as we strive to become the safest major city in the United States.”

The new initiatives in this plan include:

  • Pushing for better coordination between the Dallas police department and the Dallas Independent School District to expand counseling programs (considering recent events, you would think their top priority would be ensuring that each school has an armed officer first).
  • Giving a deadline for city departments to figure out how to solve violent crime without the police (because we don’t have enough officers and the city refuses to give them enough funds to recruit more).
  • Investing in brighter streetlights (so we can see the crimes happen instead of stopping them).

Let’s not forget the new initiative to fence up vacant lots for future development programs (because our city leaders care more about money than public safety), and the initiative to get city officials on board with taking down bars like the crime ridden OT Tavern in Greenville. Since shutting down OT Tavern was an easy political win for Councilman Paul Ridley, the political motives behind this initiative are painfully obvious. The man that really deserves credit for this bust is concerned resident Darren Dattalo, the local Crime Watch Coordinator for the Greenville Neighborhood Association. I spoke with Mr. Dattalo and he explained that he’d been trying to shut down the bar for years. “Bullets have come through peoples windows,” he said, “We have had 4 shootouts this year.”

Here’s the riddle: In a series of initiatives aimed at reducing violent crime, how will that goal be accomplished without anything that would increase or improve vital police services such as patrols?

This new safety plan comes at a time when there have been 126 homicide victims this year in Dallas, 18 more victims than this same time last year. In a heartbreaking scene just earlier this month, two kids (no older than 3-years-old) were found abandoned in an apartment after both their mother and father were gunned down and murdered in the living room. More counselors in our schools, project/department negotiating deadlines, and brighter streetlights does nothing for these now-orphaned children, and future victims of Dallas’ violent crime incidents. This new “safety plan” is a bogus effort by city officials that does little to nothing to address Dallas’ spiraling crime rates!

We need serious initiatives if we want to reduce violent crime. Our police force is devastatingly low, and we have long needed more sworn-in officers to protect our streets, but we will not get that until our city council allocates more funding to the police to make it happen. We should be promoting initiatives that advocate for more police patrols in crime ridden areas, not padding the pockets of our city departments who naively advance their non-police related solutions to homicide. Dallas needs to stop bringing clipboards and candy to these gunfights and equip our police force to enforce the law safely and effectively.

We are not fooled by this new safety plan being rolled out by the city, it’s nothing more than a political red herring by people who want to keep their job without doing it. The people of Dallas elected these representatives who have a duty to their constituents to keep them safe. We must demand better from them; residents deserve to feel safe in their own homes.

Call your city representative and tell them that these new initiatives don’t do nearly enough! Ask them what they plan on doing to ensure that Dallas has a strong and well-equipped police force, as it’s the biggest step in making sure that Dallas maintains public safety. Every resident of Dallas has a stake in holding their elected officials accountable — we must start speaking out to save our city from becoming another major urban crime hub!

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