City Leaders Grapple With Increase in Aggravated Assaults in Downtown Dallas

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Statistics show downtown Dallas, like the city as a whole, is experiencing a rise in some violent crime.

The neighborhood has been particularly impacted by the pandemic that’s kept thousands of workers home, businesses struggling to survive and social unrest this summer.

NBC 5 asked city leaders about growing concerns and what they’re doing about it.

One incident happened just before 11 p.m. last Thursday.

A young restaurant worker who was waiting to be picked up after work was being attacked and beaten by an apparent stranger along Main Street.

Downtown Dallas residents heard screams for help on the street. His assailant is seen on video hopping back on a scooter and riding away as bystanders helped the victim.

He was bruised but is OK.

City records show aggravated assault (non-family violence) is up across the city about 30% from this time last year.

The percentage is even higher downtown: 36%.

“Any uptick in crime that we see is too much,” said Kourtny Garrett, president of Downtown Dallas, Inc. which provides security patrols downtown.

Garrett says the pandemic has been a driving force for recent problems involving crime and struggling businesses.

“Simply by the fact that we don’t have the foot traffic that we typically do,” she said.

City council member David Blewett represents District 14 including downtown, Uptown and East Dallas.

“I’m hearing from a lot of my residents that the disruption and the chaos downtown is too much even for people who are used to some disruption,” he said.

Blewett says he recently spent time with police in his downtown district.

“What we’re seeing is an increase in street racing, an increase in scooters that are operating after midnight, an increase in our homeless population,” said Blewett.

Blewett and Garrett say they’re bolstering services, working closely with security patrols, Dallas police and homeless solutions to address growing concerns.

“Through COVID, our homeless solutions team has not been engaging like they used to and so the homeless population grew a little bit. But it is normalized now,” he said. “We’re cleaning up some of the encampments.”

The council member was surprised when witnessing drivers shutting down intersections for illegal stunts.

“I did see a significant number of younger people on scooters going from intersection to intersection looking for the next place that the racers were going to do their donuts,” said Blewett. “I honestly was not aware that the scooters were still operating after midnight."

It is an issue he says he compromised on with the city.

“So I’ve gone back to the director of transportation, our city manager and I’ve told them I want written confirmation that these scooters are going to be shut down at midnight,” he said.

The city leaders say they want to assure residents and businesses concerned about the brazen assault last week and about crime downtown. “We are not abandoning downtown in any way,” said Blewett.

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