The increase in Dallas violent crime continued in a new report Monday as Dallas Police manpowfier continued to decline.
The new figures show overall crime down 2.38% because of a drop in property crime. But violent crime is up 4.31% led by a 23.56% increase in business robbery.
Police answered 49 business robbery calls in the past four weeks including five 7-11 convenient store locations, four Family Dollar stores and four Metro PCS stores.
At a North Dallas restaurant called Swadeshi in the 7600 block of McCallum, six customers were also robbed at gunpoint around 7:30pm on November 7th.
An armed robber struck a children’s shoe store, Kids Foot Locker, at 3pm on November 8, in the 3400 block of West Illinois Avenue.
“It’s happening all times of the day, through all parts of the city, to all types of businesses,” said Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata. “So what that tells me is it’s a crime of opportunity. It’s a crime that these criminal feel they can do without consequences.”
The union leader blamed the ongoing rise in violent crime on the continuing decline in the number of Dallas Police officers.
Monday’s report to the Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee said police sworn manpower is now 3,053 compared with 3,362 at the same time last year and 3,489 the year before. There were 17 more officers this time last month.
“Until we get those officers back on the street, and we get those detectives back in those bureaus, we’re going to have this problem. Crime is not going to fall,” Mata said.
Police commanders told Dallas City Council Members Monday they are focused on the rise in violent crime at convenient stores and retail outlets.
“We’re encouraging officers to get out between calls, drive by. Get out there and visit with those business owners. We’ve also shored up our convenient store inspections,” said Assistant Chief Paul Stokes.
The inspections promote crime prevention measures. Stores are told to limit cash on hand, to install security cameras that can help catch criminals and to keep windows free of posters and displays for better visibility into the store.
Police manpower is also being redirected at the business robbery problem in some parts of the city.
“Some divisions are using their bike officers to focus on that,” Stokes said. “I know that’s going on in the Southwest Division and Bishop Arts.”
Police also report a 12.33% increase in Aggravated Assault so far this year compared with last year. Drive by gang shooting is a major factor in the assault reports.
Police union leader Mata questioned whether the overall crime reduction may be a result of citizens no longer bothering to report property crimes.
“It takes 2, 3, 4, 7 hours for officers to show up and so they just throw their hands up in disgust,” Mata said.
The current budget includes money to recruit and train new police officers but only as many as the city expects to lose to retirement or resignation this year.
Police and pay problems are still challenges for keeping and hiring officers in Dallas.
“We need to address the pay and benefits,” Mata said.
Another large group of officers is expected to leave in January because of features in a pension reform plan approved by the Texas Legislature this year.