DALLAS, TX– As 2020 is nearly half over, there is a spike in violent crime and city officials are at odds on the best and safest way to reduce it.
Aggravated Assaults and Homicides for the month of July, which is the department's primary concern. pic.twitter.com/Fbi0KXGOYV
— Dallas Police Dept (@DallasPD) August 10, 2020
Last year, when Dallas saw an up-tick in violent crime, Police Chief U. Renee Hall faced a mandate to reduce that violent crime. However, this year that mandate as yet to happen, as some city officials say the problem requires other solutions outside of law enforcement.
According to a report from Dallas News, aggravated assaults in Dallas are up about 21 percent this year. So far this year, Dallas has reported 128 murders compared to the 127 from the same time last year. In comparison, robberies and rapes saw dramatic declines.
Hall presented her 2020 violent crime plan earlier in the year, and told council members that her department would aim to reduce the overall violent crime by 5 percent. Some council members simply do not think that is enough, and is putting even more pressure on Hall and her officers to reduce violent crime.
According to councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn, who represents Far North Dallas, she does not believe that Hall’s violent crime plan is producing “acceptable results.”
She said in a statement:
“This plan is just not working. And our role in governance, all I can do is look at the data, look at the strategy, and say there is a leadership performance issue.”
Crime Reduction Goals and Objectives pic.twitter.com/SfrQJOLTPd
— Dallas Police Dept (@DallasPD) August 10, 2020
Hall said in her own statement:
“I will not stop saying that crime is everybody’s responsibility. And so we are focused in our area and we’re just hoping that everybody else will come to the table alongside us.”
Hall also commented that other big cities across the country are also experiencing increases in violence and violent crimes. According to reports, Houston reported 175 murders so far this year, and San Antonio reported 75 murders, up from the 53 during the same time last year.
“I don’t think anyone of us at this table are saying we are doing the best job possible, but I do think we need to look across this country. Every city, every major city is experiencing the same thing that the city of Dallas is experiencing.”
Largest 10 Cities Comparison pic.twitter.com/giA0AqzHOG
— Dallas Police Dept (@DallasPD) August 10, 2020
Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold, who represents District 4, said that Hall should not bear all the blame over this spike in violent crime. She said that council members need to have more in-depth conversations about the historically marginalized areas of Dallas that continue to have high crime.
According to police statistics, the increases in violent crime that the city is seeing, has mostly been driven by the South Central, Southeast, and Southwest patrol divisions.
Arnold said in a statement:
“We’ve not done some very basic things such as providing services, making sure there was equity in the city.”
As part of Hall’s violent crime plan, Dallas police have zeroed in on apprehending violent offenders. The department’s violent crime task force is made up of narcotics, gang, SWAT, and mounted patrol units.
Violent crime is up in Dallas but city officials at odds on best way to reduce it https://t.co/fnB060JoHP
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) August 11, 2020
Deputy Chief Teena Schultz stated that most of the homicide violence the city saw in July, was attributed to arguments that ended deadly. Of the city’s 25 homicides in July, more than half of them, 14 to be exact, stemmed from an argument or conflict.
According to police data, three of them stemmed from family violence, another three were from robberies, and five were unknown. Schultz, who also oversees the violent crime task force, said that crimes at convenience stores and apartment complexes have also become more of a concern.
Dallas City Council members will be briefed and begin discussions today on a 2020-2021 fiscal year budget that aims to reinvent the city’s approach to public safety while coping with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. https://t.co/QjCEnfsSFa
— Dallas Biz Journal (@DallasBizNews) August 11, 2020
After the death of 9-year-old Brandoniya Bennet in August 2019, Mayor Eric Johnson put together a public safety task force, and some of those non-law enforcement solutions to crime have also been recommended by some council members.
Some of those recommendations include adding light fixtures in crime hotspots, improving run-down buildings, and investing in school programs for the youth. Council member Casey Thomas suggested that the city invest in lighting as it considers the upcoming budget. Hall said that the investment would have a “significant impact.”
Hall said in a statement:
“We recognize that criminals operate in the dark. So, as long as there’s not light for them to be seen when they’re committing robberies or other acts of violence, that is a haven for them to thrive.”
Yesterday, I met with my Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities to thank them for the work they put in to produce a report with community-driven and data-supported solutions that will be implemented to reduce violent crime in Dallas. I am grateful for their service to our city! pic.twitter.com/HJswDUuXkC
— Mayor Eric Johnson (@Johnson4Dallas) March 3, 2020
City officials said that several initiatives are underway to help combat violent crime through the rest of 2020. Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune said a crisis response team is also in the works.
He said about the unit:
“A very specific team of individuals who will be available to the Police Department, folks who are trained in social work and conflict resolution, to be able to provide some resources to our community that we don’t have right now.”
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Here is another article from Law Enforcement Today on the violence and violent crime plan in Dallas:
DALLAS, TX- One thing that is easy to predict. Any time a police agency tries to implement new crime fighting initiatives, the criminal-loving/anti-police groups will crawl out from under their rocks to oppose it.
In Dallas, TX., Chief U. Renee Hall has proposed some new strategies in the city in order to take on violent crime in the new year.
Last month, Dallas mayor Eric Johnson said that the crime rate in the city in 2019 was “patently unacceptable” and he requested a “comprehensive written plan to reduce violent crime” by the end of last year.
Dallas was on a pace to have at least 200 homicides last year, and also saw a sharp increase in the number of robberies and aggravated assaults that were reported in 2019. Both Johnson and city council members expressed frustration with the lack of a crime-fighting plan.
Out of 192 homicide victims as of December 3, 127 of that number were African Americans, or 66%. In addition, 46 were Latinos, 17 were white and two were Asian-American.
In a letter to City Manager T.C. Broadnax, Johnson wrote:
“The number of African Americans alone who have been killed in our city in 2019 is staggering and would constitute a bad year for total homicides in many large U.S. cities.”
In response to the request of Johnson and the city council, Hall outlined some of the key strategies the department will utilize to tackle violent crime in the new year.
The new efforts will focus on data-driven policing, increasing clearance rates of violent crime and improving communication and coordination within the department and local agencies. Among the biggest initiatives is a plan to create an intelligence-led-policing unit, known in law enforcement circles as “predictive policing.” This is also the most controversial.
Predictive policing has become increasingly common in law enforcement over the past several years and has been successful in cities such as Los Angeles. It has met with mixed results in Chicago. Of course, the usual suspect naysayers do not like the practice and believe that it can lead to unfair policing in so-called “marginalized” communities.
Dallas PD currently uses license plate readers and has a mobile surveillance unit, however they declined to say what types of technology will be deployed with the new program, or how the information gathered will be used. The current technology of ALPRs and mobile surveillance are used primarily to reduce property crimes.
In complaining about the implementation of predictive policing, Sara Mokuria, co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality (guess the title tells you all you need to know) said she disagrees with the departments plan, saying that she’s concerned about racial profiling. Aren’t they always?
She complains that the Dallas PD should be “more transparent” about what types of technology would be used by the unit. She also complained that there needed to be accountability to ensure people’s due process rights were honored.
“Instead of being targeted for suspicion of wrongdoing, they’re being targeted for statistical probability, which is not fair,” Mokuria said.
Her complaint doesn’t make sense. Police assets are commonly deployed to “troubled” areas and using statistics to guide that is not inherently unfair, nor does it “target” individuals, but rather “targets” offenses.
According to Jerry Ratcliffe, a criminal justice professor at Temple University, gathering intelligence helps police agencies keep watch on repeat offenders who are more likely to be involved in criminal activity and likely make up most of the violent crime offenders in a city.
“Police agencies tend to be reactive and response-driven to 911 calls. So, this is a welcomed move to see them paying more attention to serious repeat offenders within cities who may not necessarily rise to the level of federal targets,” he said.
Enter the ACLU—the American Criminal Liberties Union—where a senior staff attorney who focuses on police practices, said that predictive policing can have “serious consequences in racial justice and equity.”
The attorney, Carl Takei, said there have been questions about the effectiveness of the strategy in actually stopping crime.
“The consequence can be that people who are likely victims of violence end up being targeted with more aggressive police tactics,” Takei said.
Chief Hall will go into further detail about the new plan on Jan. 13, when the next public safety committee meeting will be held at Dallas City Hall.
Meanwhile, other cities where predictive policing has been implemented have shown the practice to be successful.
In 2014, Los Angeles implemented predictive policing. On one day that year in the LAPD’s Foothill Division, the LAPD actually enjoyed a day without crime in the 50 square mile precinct.
While there had been concerns about profiling when the program was implemented, former chief Mark Yokoyama said at the time that predictive policing didn’t tell the agency about “race, gender, anything like that.” Instead he said, it looked at date, time, location and crime.
“You have to take a risk sometimes if you want to impact crime,” he said. Our car burglaries and car thefts all went down last year, in fact substantially down.”
In New York, the departments use of CompStat was widely credited in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s for substantially reducing the crime rate in the city. So, the choice becomes…use technology and engage in “smart” policing, or don’t use technology and let crime run rampant.
In 2020 with the technology that is available, police departments are wise to use whatever tools are available to them, in keeping with constitutional protections, in order to get crime under control. Unfortunately, a lot of people, in particular liberal politicians, are more interested in protecting criminals instead of protecting their victims.