Dallas Police Chief Defends Crime-Fighting Strategy

Security guard shot and killed early Sunday on Riverfront Boulevard is victim of city's 65th homicide of 2016

As homicide detectives try to close the latest murder investigation, Dallas Police Chief David Brown calls the violent crime spike "unacceptable" and says he's working on new strategies to bring the violence down.

There have been 13 murders in Dallas in just the last two weeks.

This year, overall violent crime – which includes murders, robberies and physical assaults – is up more than 15 percent over last year. Murders alone have increased more than 60 percent.

There have been 65 murders in Dallas so far in 2016.

The latest one happened Sunday morning around 2 a.m. It was a drive-by shooting at a South Dallas club.

Kendrick Forrest was working security at the club "Nineteen Nineteen", which is located at 1919 Riverfront Boulevard, near downtown Dallas.

Forrest was the part-owner of his own private security company, called Secure Watch Patrol. His family said he founded the company eight years ago and had 10 employees, who provide late-night security services to Dallas nightclubs and bars.

Forrest was wearing a bullet-proof vest, but he was fatally shot in the drive-by shooting.

His family said the bullets were special-made to cut through protective gear like vests and armor.

"It hurts me so much. They took my oldest son. He didn't deserve to be killed like that," said Forrest's mother, Barbara Waldon. "He was an outgoing person, had a neat personality, he was loved by so many. He loved to joke. But he was a caring person, too."

"He was wearing a vest. He took his safety seriously," said younger sister, Jasmine Waldon. "And the bullet went through that vest."

"That's what makes this so scary," she added. "It could have been anyone."

A second man, Randy Green, was also shot and critically injured in the shooting. He remains hospitalized in stable condition, police say.

Forrest's murder is the 65th of the year in Dallas. There have been 13 in just the last two weeks.

"There have been a lot of deaths in Dallas, this month alone, from killings from guns. It's unfortunate that it was our family this time, but it can be someone else next time," Jasmine Waldon said. "And I don't want anyone else to go through this kind of pain."

Barbara Waldon's husband died last Saturday after a years-long battle with colon cancer. His condition worsened in recent weeks.

A week after her husband's funeral, her son was murdered.

"[Kendrick] was telling me how he'd be the man to come around the house and do the things that my husband did," she said, choking back tears. "And now he's been taken from me."

"It's just so much pain, having to bury two family members back to back like that," Jasmine Waldon said.

Kendrick Forrest leaves behind two teenage children – a son and a daughter.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said he is bracing for another big spike in violence this summer, based on an analysis of previous summers' crime data.

"Criminals don't have boundaries. They don't have beats and divisions, or units or boundaries for their crimes," Brown said.

The police chief said he wants to do three things to keep the violence down this summer:

  • Increase foot patrols and community engagement at apartment complexes and community centers.
  • Maintain crime task forces that seize drugs, weapons and go after violent offenders with outstanding warrants.
  • And also approve more overtime hours.

Brown said he will approve more overtime hours so officers can work longer patrol shifts in high-problem areas, but he admits it's a temporary solution.

"We may be able to get overtime filled through the summer, maybe even to next spring, but if an officer gets fatigued, the officer can make mistakes," Brown said.

"So it's not a sustainable strategy, but it's the current strategy because we have this spike," he added.

Brown said the department needs to retain its officers, which starts with increasing pay. He said he hopes to have a final answer from city council on higher officer pay by the end of August.

Forrest's mother and sister said they support Brown's plan, and hope that police can keep making arrests and confiscating weapons.

"I think they're doing their best, but illegal guns are being sold. And then those guns are being used. They need to put better restrictions on who is out there getting a gun," Barbara Waldon said.

"People have to be more willing to help the police do their job," added Jasmine Waldon.

Brown also said that while violent crime is up compared to last year and that any violence is "unacceptable," the numbers are still among the lowest in the city's history.

"Even though the [violent crime] numbers are up, if you project-out the rate of murder from January through May of this year, it'd still be among the lowest on record. It'll be sixth or seventh. And last year was fourth," he said. "So we're comparing ourselves to an 86-year low homicide rate. Still, the goal is to prevent even one murder from happening."

The police chief also defended shifting hundreds of officers into specialized task forces.

Since April 19, the Domestic Violence Warrant Team made about 200 arrests on active domestic violence warrants.

The Violent Crime Task Force confiscated more than 70 weapons and 370 drugs, and arrested 88 known gang members with outstanding warrants.

Detectives are still trying to find Forrest's killer. They have not named any suspects.

Forrest's funeral will be Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Golden Gate Funeral Home.

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