Dallas City Council District 4 is the target for a new crime-fighting initiative led by Council Member Carolyn King Arnold.
Her district, in the center of Southern Dallas, is an area where crime has been on the rise, despite social distancing recommendations and the coronavirus pandemic that slowed crime in other places.
But Arnold said the Dallas 365 Safe plan began last year, with the murder of a 15-year-old in her district as a catalyst.
“The whole focus behind Dallas 365 Safe, we want to be safe 365 days a year. And we’re encouraging all of our constituents, if you see something, say something,” Arnold said.
At a press conference unveiling Dallas 365 Safe, Arnold praised the ministers and community leaders who have pledged to work with law enforcement.
“These leaders are committed to a change and it’s a change for the better,” Arnold said.
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Pastor Jonathan Morrison of Cedar Crest Church of Christ said many people in his community feel unseen and unheard.
“We are plagued with the typical infestation of prostitution, of drugs, trafficking even. And so again there is definitely a need for this type of leadership,” he said.
Neighborhood leaders said crime is a real concern in District Four.
“There are gunshots that are going on, more often now in our neighborhood than ever occurred before. And that is striking fear in people,” said Tom Forsyth with the Oak Park Neighborhood Association.
Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers will participate in the effort with the same sort of neighborhood presence they provided last summer to support the Dallas Police.
DPS Regional Director Hank Sibley said the DPS role this year will be smaller, more focused, and may include undercover state officers.
“We’re going to be flexible. We’re going to be mobile. And we’re here to support Dallas PD any way we can,” Sibley said.
The DPS role was criticized last summer and trooper training was questioned over the shooting death of one armed suspect. The suspect had 16 bullet wounds but a grand jury declined the indict the troopers.
Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall welcomed the new support from DPS but would not discuss exactly how or where state resources would be used.
“We don't give out the secret entrance to the bat cave. We will not allow the criminals to know exactly where we're going to be,” Hall said.
Attracting new investment to disadvantaged neighborhoods is an ultimate goal for Dallas 365 Safe.
Another partner in the plan is a non-profit, One Community USA, led by Toni Brinker, the former wife of a restaurant tycoon.
“No restaurant company is interested in putting a facility in a community that is not safe. They are worried about their asset, but more worried about their employees,” Brinker said.
Dallas 365 Safe is a community policing formula that has been tried before.
“It only makes sense that we unite and do this as a partnership,” Chief Hall said. “We have a lot of work to do. We believe that crime prevention is everybody’s business.”
Council Member Arnold said this grassroots effort has strong support and she is hopeful that it produces results that other parts of Dallas will want to follow.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.