Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson says he's launching a task force, his first, aimed at reducing violent crime throughout the city.
They mayor said the citizens of Dallas cannot ask the police department to do it all and that the task force will not rely exclusively on law enforcement to curb violent crime, which has increased roughly 18% compared to 2018. Instead, the mayor said, the task force will use data to recommend changes that could impact the lives of people in the city.
"Today I'm creating a new task force ... called The Mayor's Task Force on Safe Communities. Its mission will be to seek holistic and data-driven solutions for communities disproportionately affected by violent crime," Johnson said.
The mayor said it would then be up to city leaders to consider and implement the task force's recommendations.
Heading up the task force are three co-chairs: Alan Cohen, president and CEO of The Child Poverty Action Lab; longtime civic leader and educator Rene Martinez and the Reverend Dr. Michael Bowie, Senior Pastor at St. Luke Community United Methodist Church.
Johnson said he planned to name the remainder of the task force soon and that there would be no members of law enforcement on the force for a reason.
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"We can't rely on law enforcement exclusively to solve this problem. There's something going on in our neighborhoods and in our communities in Dallas that's leading to this increase activity, increased gang activity, this increased violent crime and we're going to get to the root of it," he said.
According to statistics released by the Dallas Police Department, through Sunday Aug. 18, there have been 132 people killed by murder or non-negligent manslaughter in the city so far this year. That number is 25% higher than the same period in 2018 where 106 people were killed.
Comparing the same time period, Dallas' crime statistics show aggravated assaults are up 21% and robberies are up 22%. Reports of forcible sex offenses, the department said, are down 20%
Dallas Chief of Police U. Renee Hall, who is currently out on medical leave, announced her department was creating a task force in March to address the rise of violent crime.
Even still, with the Dallas Police Department so severely understaffed, with some estimates saying they are down several hundred officers with hundreds more set to soon retire, earlier this summer Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to send state troopers to the city to help police respond to the increase in violent crime.
The arrival of DPS officers in the city has been met with mixed feelings, some in favor and some against, that are now even more muddled after the fatal shooting of an armed man Saturday.
Johnson refused to answer any questions about the trooper-involved shooting and whether there would be any changes to the presence of DPS in South Dallas. He said he wanted to focus on questions related to the task force.
When asked about the last time he spoke with Hall about crime and the task force, Johnson said he had not spoken with the police chief since she left on medical leave, which was announced to the public in July.