Dallas City Council members Monday praised progress from Chief Eddie Garcia’s violent crime plan as officers announced an expansion that will target a notorious Dallas location.
Garcia said overall violent crime is now down 11% since May when his plan was put in place, including reductions in homicide, robbery and aggravated assault.
“And I just want to say to the Chief and leadership, this is very good news,” Councilman Adam McGough said.
But Dallas still has issues.
A Dallas Police Sergeant was wounded early Monday responding to a burglary call around 1 a.m. at a Northeast Dallas apartment complex on Audelia near Walnut Hill Lane.
The officer was shot in the hand.
Resident Jocelyn Quinones said she and her husband hid from the gunfire.
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"We were lying in bed and then we just heard gunshots, really loud bangs near our window. We didn't even get up,” she said.
A man was quickly arrested for the shooting.
“The actions of early this morning are indicative of the work that these men and women are doing constantly for this city. I think while we remain cautiously optimistic, we aren’t doing touch-down dances,” Garcia said. “This is a journey, not a destination.”
Garcia calls the next step in his crime plan ‘Place Network Investigations.’ It will begin with two locations including 11700 Ferguson Road near LBJ Freeway.
In a June 2019 visit to that location, NBC 5 found a drug dealer so bold that he counted cash on the street in broad daylight.
The landlord of the apartment complex there had military-style security on duty to keep the drug dealers out.
A security guard eventually died after being paralyzed from gunshot wounds he received in December 2018 trying to protect the Texaco gas station and convenience store there.
In November 2019, Former Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall picked the Texaco to launch the Starlight camera program, to record and deter crime.
“This would be an opportunity for this location, because it's one of our highest crime locations, to partner with the city,” Chief Hall said that day.
Julietta Mejia who worked at the store said they tried to rely on the city in the past.
“Every time we call police it takes 20 minutes or more, two hours sometimes,” she said.
Now, current Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia plans to bring his PNI program to the Ferguson Road location and another apartment complex area at 3550 E. Overton Road in Southern Dallas.
The PNI program will survey neighbors and could include solutions from other city departments and not just police.
“Do we need a park nearby? Do we need streets nearby to be fixed up? Does it need better lighting? Does it need more security? Is parking an issue? So, all those issues will come into play,” Garcia said.
Another Dallas crime prevention program is violence interrupters. They are ex-cons who also reported some success to City Council Members Monday after just a few months on the street helping encourage people to share information with police.
“You need to be able to have people in the community who they feel they can trust,” Councilman Casey Thomas said.
Dallas Police also explained a plan to add more drones for a limited overhead view of public safety situations.
A downside of intense police attention to hot spots is slower response time to 911 emergency calls, which is seen on the public safety dashboard.
The highest priority calls are a minute and a half slower. Priority two calls are answered twice as slow as last year at 51 minutes. Priority three calls keep residents waiting almost five hours.
Chief Garcia said he hopes the city will add more officers to help improve response time.
He said 30 more officers will begin training this week, but the addition could be matched this year by retirements or other departures.