Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said public safety is the city’s top priority in the annual State of the City Speech.
Freshly recovered from a breakthrough case of COVI-19, the vaccinated Johnson delivered the speech in the Dallas City Council Chamber after a two-week quarantine delay.
The annual speech by the mayor is required by the Dallas City Charter.
Johnson said violent crime is declining in Dallas under better leadership from new Police Chief Eddie Garcia.
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“While other cities across the country are still struggling to slow violence, crime in Dallas is going down,” Johnson said.
He said the new city budget that took effect on Oct. 1 was crafted to boost public safety by adding more police officers, more police overtime and more police cars.
Former Dallas City Councilman Gary Griffith leads the public safety support group “Safer Dallas, Better Dallas.”
“I think the mayor outlined a great agenda for public safety. I think this council is behind him. They’re going to work together and we’re going to see safer neighborhoods which is what we all want, safer businesses, safer schools. So, I think they’re on the right track I was impressed with what he delivered today,” Griffith said.
Dallas LULAC leader Rene Martinez led the Mayor’s Safer Communities Task Force. It recommended measures that are also included in the new city budget, like removing blight and adding better lighting in higher crime areas.
Martinez was critical of the previous police chief but said strategies from the new Chief Eddie Garcia are also making a difference.
“This chief is using a lot of research, analytics, data, and he’s really broken it down to small geographic areas. And then he’s deploying the officers in a very smart, strategic manner, more arrests for drugs, more arrests for guns. So, absolutely, the trend looks great. We’re doing better than every major city in Texas,” Martinez said.
Pastor James Armstrong leads the group “Builders of Home,” which is adding new affordable inner-city homes.
Armstrong praised Johnson’s message about attention to basics to help Dallas better compete with the suburbs.
“Empowering local residents of the community to build our great city, strong neighborhoods, a strong city. And his message of hope was a message of purpose as well as a detailed plan on how we’re going to get there,” Armstrong said.
Soaring property values are making property taxes higher for homeowners and landlords.
Council Member Cara Mendelsohn said she was impressed with Johnson’s speech, but she voted against the new city budget that Johnson praised because she wanted more property tax rate reduction.
“We talk about affordable housing all the time and we’re making our apartments less affordable and our housing less affordable for folks,” Mendelsohn said.
Mayor Johnson said property tax rate reduction will be a bigger priority in the next city budget.
Johnson’s 2020 address included:
- Adequately funding public safety and overhauling the violent crime reduction plan.
- Implementing efficiency measures at the police department.
- Continuing to expand RIGHT Care.
- Fully funding and investing in street infrastructure.
- Reducing the city's property tax rate.
- Adopting a new comprehensive economic development policy that included an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Addressing homelessness through a collective effort that includes Dallas County, nonprofits, shelters, and the faith community.
- Correcting issues with permitting.
- Continuing implementation of the Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan.
- Examining how the city can improve workforce development and facilitate upskilling.
- Expanding Dallas Works, the mayor's summer jobs program for Dallas youth.