City Council Praises Dallas Violent Crime Improvement Plan

A small reduction in violent crime wins praise despite ongoing challenges

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Dallas City Council members Tuesday praised police for improvements in combatting violent crime and for a new plan to fight domestic violence announced Monday.

But Monday’s homicides and assaults show there is still a crime challenge.

Two people were wounded by gunfire in an aggravated assault case on Lancaster Road around 12:40 a.m. Monday. Aggravated assault is one crime that is still rising in Dallas.

A woman was killed by gunfire around 10 a.m. Monday at a boarding house on Alabama Street in southern Dallas. A 62-year old man was arrested for that homicide.

Then around 10:50 p.m., a man was killed on Larga Drive near Northwest Highway and Dallas Love Field. A suspect was charged with manslaughter for allegedly playing with an airsoft rifle and pointing it at the victim.

The area near Northwest Highway is one of the higher crime neighborhoods that police have targeted to reduce violence.

Since new Chief Eddie Garcia’s plan began this spring, the rate of killing has leveled off. And overall violent crime in Dallas is now down about 6% so far this year compared with last, instead of the consistent increases the city had been posting.

Police also report an increase in arrests and seizures of guns and drugs.

“You’re doing a good job. We are seeing better trends in Dallas than we are in other big cities across this country. The evidence is there. The plan is there,” city councilman Adam McGough said.

On top of the violent crime plan update, the Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee heard Tuesday about the new domestic violence plan.

Garcia said there has already been some impact on domestic violence in the areas targeted for violent crime reduction.

“Violent people are violent people. The same individuals who commit offenses outside the home are the same individuals that are battering their partners,” Garcia said.

The domestic violence plan adds more detectives to DPD’s domestic violence unit and adds home visits to offenders to intervene before repeat violence between intimate partners.

Council member Gay Donnell Willis said he was pleased with another part of the plan to seek federal support for prosecution.

“I'm really glad to see glad to see that there is some attention being given to federal prosecution of firearms-related offenses, so hopefully that's going to knock a few abusers off the street,” she said.

The Public Safety Committee also heard about progress on an early warning system to help identify problem police officers before they resort to excessive force. The $300,000 annual price tag for software and management amounts to about a dollar per officer.

Dallas is also planning to test a diversion program for first-time misdemeanor offenders in municipal court to save them from carrying a criminal history.

City attorney Chris Caso said fees may be necessary to cover the lost city revenue from misdemeanor fines.

“If we have this pilot program and two people take advantage of it, then we don't need a fee. If 500 or 1,000 do, then probably we do,” Caso said.

In general, there was praise for police from city council members Tuesday, including the committee chairman, McGough.

“We're just getting started going in the right direction. Let’s keep it up,” he said.

The city council increased the Dallas police budget to add 250 more officers in the next year. City leaders expect more crime reduction for the money.

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