Monday morning the Arlington Police Department shed light on 'Operation Connect,' a strategy to tackle rising crime trends in Arlington.
Police chief Al Jones said compared to 2020, violent crime is up 12% and aggravated assaults along with gun violence are the main factors.
"I want to be extremely clear, that we will not tolerate these trends in our city," said Jones.
The department rolled out Operation Connect back on April 5.
According to APD, the goal of this initiative is to reduce violent crime, serious injury, and fatal crashes, as well as to build positive relationships with the community.
"We will do everything in our power to reduce violent crime and protect our residents. I also want to stress that the police department can't do it alone, it's going to take the whole community coming together, working together to fix these issues," said Jones.
In the past three months, officers have made almost four hundred arrests and have recovered guns, drugs, stolen cars and cash.
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"We have made 380 arrests in Operation Connect. I want to stress, these are not your average just low-level offenses, these are felony crimes. These are people in our communities that are carrying guns illegally, that are selling narcotics and they're out there committing felony crimes," said Deputy Chief Kyle Dishko, the commander of the operation
Dishko added officers working on the initiative have recovered 53 guns, eight stolen vehicles, $31,000 in cash, 20 pounds of marijuana, several ounces of cocaine, methamphetamine, and other illegal drugs. Additionally, they have made 3,800 traffic stops related to Operation Connect and issued 2,800 citations.
Results of 'Operation Connect' So Far
- Arlington Police Officers have made 3,112 documented community engagements
- Arlington Police have made 380 arrests
- Recovered 53 guns
- Recovered 20.97 pounds of marijuana
- Recovered 8 stolen vehicles
- Recovered 3.47 ounces of Cocaine, 2.11 ounces of Meth, 24 grams of Ecstasy, 13.1 grams of Heroin
- Recovered $31,228 in cash
APD is also working with federal partners from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or the ATF.
"Violent crime is up, there's no mistaking that, that the streets today are more dangerous than they have been in most of our lifetimes," said special agent Jeffrey Boshek with the Dallas Field Division of the ATF.
"These are defendants that typically in the state system would be out on bond and be back out committing crimes. These criminals are in federal custody and go away somewhere that's not here in Texas most likely," said Boshek.
He said so far this year 35 federal defendants were prosecuted from Arlington.
Chief Jones said the most challenging part of the operation so far has been the number of minors committing crimes.
"We have to find a way how do we interrupt that flow of guns, especially to get these guns out of the hands of these minors. That's what we're seeing a lot of here in Texas. that a lot of minors are getting guns and committing violent offenses here but we are working through Operation Connect trying to identify each and every one of them because it's important to make sure we get them off the street to make sure others as much safe."
Last month a 16-year-old was shot and killed outside Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Police said the suspected shooter was an 18-year-old.
Community engagement also remains a top priority for the police department. Dishko said that in just a few months, they had tallied 3,100 community interactions through the program where officers had reached out and spoken with citizens about the program at food drives, traffic stops, community meetings and other events.
Chief of Police Al Jones added Monday that community engagement is one of the most important components in fighting crime through Operation Connect.
"As a community, we need to stand together and send a unified message that we will not tolerate violent criminals roaming our streets," Jones said.
They're also working on curbing dangerous driving. So far this year, 24 fatal car crashes have left 29 people dead and around 1,400 have been injured in other car accidents.
"We have made over 3,800 traffic stops related to Operation connect, and we've issued 2,800 citations," said Dishko. "We're trying to correct people's poor driving behavior through Operation Connect."
The department said it has identified seven zones where resources are strategically deployed to arrest violent offenders, remove illegal guns and drugs from neighborhoods, and deter reckless driving behaviors through high visibility traffic enforcement.