According to Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall, even before COVID-19 restrictions, crime was down in 2020.
“When they put the ‘Stay Order’ in we saw a bigger decrease,” Hall said. “Right now, we are sitting at a 20% reduction in homicides. With robberies, we are at a 16% reduction.”
Hall offers those statistics with a caveat that some crimes are still an issue in the city.
“We are in no way saying that crime has slowed down,” Hall said. “We are still seeing aggravated assaults and non-fatal shootings. We were still seeing that even when the stay order was in place.”
Looking toward the summer months, when crime traditionally rises, Hall is launching a Summer Crime Initiative.
“What does the economy look like? What is that going to mean for individuals without jobs and how do we play a role with our community, with the city as a whole – to kind if mitigate some of that,” Hall said. “We’ve implemented our Violent Crime Plan for the Summer that is a supplement of our Violent Crime Plan. Our Violent Crime Plan is a living, breathing document.”
As more businesses open, patrols will likely pick up in areas with heavy concentrations of bars – specifically in the areas known to have after-hours issues.
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“We go back to what we know. The intelligence lets us know that where are bars are; there are potential victims – thus are potential suspects,” Hall said. “Being in those areas and making sure that those things don’t happen. That is a part of our Summer Crime Initiative.”
The department is also keeping a close watch on domestic violence issues.
“Family violence is one that was initially down during the ‘Stay Order.’ We’ve seen for the month an increase about 18%. Year-to-date we are still down,” Hall said. “We are not naive. We understand that some of our victims are probably sheltered in place with their abusers.”
Hall said she is working with local pastors and community leaders to tackle the family violence issue.
“If you are next door in a multi-family development, sometimes when you hear people arguing or fighting, you just go about your business,” Hall said. “We want you to take notice and call the police so that we can get the resources and get these victims to the help that they need.”
It was recently announced that nearly 500 City of Dallas employees would be furloughed. Dallas police and fire departments were excluded in the furloughs.
“We’re all in this together and what happens is the city council, the city manager, the mayor – they’ve all said that public safety is a priority in the city, so I think we’ll all be working together to make decisions for the city as a whole,” Hall said.
17 officers have had COVID-19 infections and eight have returned to work.
“The staffing has not been a challenge. Each one of our substations have seen a 90% attendance rate by officers,” Hall said.
The department has split manpower offering officers to help with Code Enforcement and helping at COVID-19 testing locations.