Does New AG Crime Rule Spell Trouble for Creuzot?

crime rule
Dallas DA John Creuzot | Image by John Creuzot/Facebook

The Texas Attorney General’s Office has proposed a new enhanced reporting rule that aims to increase transparency on how it is being prosecuted locally.

The proposal would enhance violent crime reporting requirements for district attorney’s offices representing larger counties. The goal is to make the local authorities’ efforts to prosecute criminals more transparent and readily available to the citizens who elected them into office, according to a news release from the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Public comment on the proposed rule change is open until early April, after which time Attorney General Ken Paxton can enact it.

The new proposal would instruct DAs of counties with populations of 250,000 or more to produce quarterly and annual violent crime reports each fiscal year based on enhanced requirements. It also establishes a procedure for dealing with non-compliance, which can result in the attorney general filing a petition for removal and other civil proceedings.

The rule also provides an expansive definition of violent crime as “includ[ing], but not limited to, capital murder, murder, or other felony homicide, aggravated assault, sexual assault of an adult or child, indecency with a child, family violence assault, robbery or aggravated robbery, burglary, theft, and automobile theft. The term also includes any attempt to commit such crimes.”

“District Attorneys who choose not to prosecute criminals appropriately have created unthinkable damage in Texas communities,” said Paxton in a statement. “Some of these officials have developed an unacceptable pattern of failing to uphold the law and adopting policies that privilege criminals over innocent victims.”

Dallas County DA John Creuzot received considerable pushback after instituting a non-prosecution policy for thefts valued under $750, as previously covered by The Dallas Express. Although he ended up repealing the policy several months later, his office has continued to be scrutinized for its alleged “soft on crime” stance.

For instance, Creuzot came under fire for declining to seek the death penalty in the case of convicted murderer and suspected serial killer Billy Chemirmir in favor of two life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Similarly, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and Police Chief Eddie Garcia have been vocal in their opposition to county bail policies being lax on violent offenders. A study commissioned by the latter into Creuzot’s bail reform measures found that 56% of suspects accused of violent crimes or weapons violations in Dallas had been released, with almost 25% ending up getting arrested again.

The murder rate increased in Dallas between 2022 and 2023 by 15%, rising from 214 to 246 criminal homicides committed citywide, according to data from the City’s crime analytics dashboard. The vast majority of murder victims have been and continue to be black and Hispanic men, as covered by The Dallas Express.

Meanwhile, policing efforts have been hampered by a longstanding officer shortage within the Dallas Police Department (DPD). Just around 3,000 officers are fielded, which is far short of the 4,000 recommended previously by the City in a public safety analysis based on population size.

The Dallas City Council also recently opted to spend much less taxpayer money on policing than its counterparts in other high-crime jurisdictions, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. DPD will operate on a budget of only $654 million this fiscal year.

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