Dallas Police announced Friday they have shifted detectives to boost the homicide squad in response to a rash of killing in the month of May.
As of Friday evening, there had been 40 May murders, the most for a single month in decades. There were four killings in less than a 24 hour period between Thursday night and Friday morning.
Assistant Police Chief Avery Moore issued a message to families of the victims.
"We want you to know that the police department mourns with you and we grieve with you. And we do not tolerate this type of behavior. So we will be in pursuit of the perpetrators," Moore said.
The police department increased its homicide squad to 22 detectives from 13 earlier this month, by shifting people from the cold case squad and non-fatal shooting cases, Moore said.
Despite the heavy work load, Moore said the homicide clearance rate so far in 2019 is 67.4%, compared with a national average of 59%. The four most recent homicides had not been solved as of Friday afternoon.
"I would like to ask the community for their help, the community leaders. We need your help in solving these homicides," Moore said.
Police said there were 41 homicides in May, but only 40 were considered murder.
The latest four murders include:
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No. 37 at the Villa Apartments at 8441 La Prada Drive around 7 p.m. Thursday night. Joshua Ford, 27, was shot during an altercation with an unknown suspect.
No. 38 at Evan Village Apartments at 3011 Park Row Avenue. Michael Rodriquez, 17, was shot while sitting in his vehicle just before midnight Thursday night.
No. 39 at the Brandon Mills Apartments at 8081 Marvin D. Love Freeway, KeAaron Taylor, 17, was shot during an argument.
No. 40 at a business in the 2300 block of Martin Luther King Boulevard, an adult male was found dead in the parking lot around 3:30 a.m. Friday morning. A suspect was seen running from the location.
The Dallas Police Department currently has about 700 fewer officers than at its manpower peak of 3,690 in 2011.
The leaders of two different Dallas police unions applauded the change in homicide unit staffing Friday, but cautioned that taking people from any part of the Dallas Police Department leaves other areas that still need police attention.
"Taking folks from anywhere is going to have an impact," said Terrance Hopkins, president of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas. "You're stretched right now, but you've got to do it, kind of roll up the sleeves and get it done."
The rash of murder comes even before the traditional summer spike in crime.
"When it gets hot, crime gets hot," said Sheldon Smith, Dallas chapter president of the National Black Police Association. "We have the best training, the best officers, but we've got our work ahead of us. We've got to manage the number of officers in each unit. We can't wait until it becomes a crisis."
Moore said other changes were planned in a summer crime fighting initiative.
"Would I like to have more officers? Absolutely. Is that an excuse? No it's not," Moore said.
A police academy class of 31 new cadets graduated Friday.
Dallas police are pushing hard to recruit more officers. Starting pay increased this year to $60,000. Hiring standards were relaxed to allow lateral transfer of sworn Texas Peace officers from other departments, even if they do not have the previously required college or military experience.