In front of City Hall Thursday afternoon, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia, several city council members, and members from the community expressed their concerns for the July Fourth weekend.
Garcia said while their main priority remains violent crime, they're also preparing for many calls of service related to fireworks, which are illegal in Dallas, and random gunfire this weekend.
"I'm a numbers guy and looking at the numbers, historically, this is the busiest weekend for this police department this summer, and arguably throughout the entire year, with the Fourth being second only to New Year's," said Garcia.
While he wouldn't go into their specific plans for tackling issues related to crime during the holiday weekend, they plan to beef up police presence.
He said their patrol division will have individual operations that will target hotspots and historically problematic areas for the Fourth of July,
They will also have crime response teams and overtime officers who will work from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
"Each patrol division will have two fire marshals, assisting with fireworks complaints as well. Neighborhood patrol officers are providing additional assistance at each division," said Garcia.
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Dallas City Council Member Carolyn King Arnold, who represents District 4, said her area of Dallas she represents, which includes Oak Cliff, 'generates' a number of calls during this time of year.
"The calls normally come from senior citizens who are fearful for their lives, we've had reports of seniors who simply lay down on the floor in the living room because they don't know where the bullets or firecrackers may go," said Arnold. "We have individuals who call because they're afraid of the fact that their children can't go out in the yard to enjoy the Fourth of July. You have pets that are startled out of their wits because of the fireworks and gunshots."
Chief Garcia said since he's arrived in Dallas, he's received multiple complaints about random gunfire in the city. He said just this past week someone was shooting a gun into the air. Officers were able to catch that person, but Garcia reiterated how dangerous it is for the community and officers.
"The laws of gravity don't stop when someone shoots a gun in the air that bullet has to come down, and I would hate for someone who is just being irresponsible to have to live with that in their conscience when that bullet comes down and injures somebody," said Garcia. "It's amazingly dangerous and it will also tie up our 911 lines when there are other emergencies that we need to do."
The chief also urged people to call 911 when people hear gunshots because there could be a victim on the other end.
In regards to wait times through 911, which has been an ongoing problem for Dallas, he said they've taken some crisis precautions to improve response times to calls. While he's pleased with the result they've seen so far with improved times, but said due to the expected demand this weekend, there may be some delays for non-life-threatening calls.
"If it's an emergency life or death situation, you call 911, we'll prioritize and we triage the calls that we get so that we respond to the life and death calls we get first and foremost," said Garcia. "I will say this, for lower priority calls that are not life and death, there may be extended periods of time because this department will be incredibly busy this weekend."
Hospitals are also getting ready for a very busy weekend.
“We definitely see an increase in our burn injuries around those times," said Dr. Audra Clark, burn critical care fellow at Parkland Hospital and UT Southwestern.
Even though fireworks are illegal in many parts of Dallas Fort-Worth, people still use them. She said they see all types of injuries from minor to life-threatening.
"But if they insist on using a legal firework, it should absolutely only be used by a sober adult with all kids very far away, with a safe distance with easily accessible water nearby," said Clark.
She said if someone does sustain a burn, to run that body part under cool water, not extremely cold water, wrap in dry gauze or clean dry sheet and seek medical attention as soon as possible. If it's life-threatening, call 911 immediately.
“You can be doing all of the right things and still sustain an injury from a firework, so I would really urge people to find alternatives like glow sticks or confetti bombs or things like that," said Clark.
Remember: Fireworks are illegal in Dallas with fines up to $2,000.
Dallas Fire-Rescue wants to remind everyone that fireworks are illegal in the City of Dallas and up to 5,000 feet outside the city limits. Anyone in possession of or using fireworks will have the fireworks confiscated and a citation will be issued.