Starting Friday, drivers may notice an increased police presence along north Dallas freeways. Officers will be taking aim at rage behind the wheel.
Violent confrontations between drivers are increasing as we head into summer and as COVID-19 concerns ease.
Conversations among top brass at Dallas police led to a ‘test’ plan to send 12 to 20 officers to saturate freeways at least once a month.
“We’re very much aware that we’re not making our presence known on those freeways,” said assistant deputy chief of police Albert Martinez. “What we’re trying to do now to combat this is actually get on those freeways, make our presence known and also taking enforcement as well.”
Aggressive drivers beware. Officers will also target speeders.
“With high speeds, that often leads to aggressive driving,” said Martinez. “Driving in and out of the lanes.”
Dallas police report at least five road rage shootings in the past two weeks.
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A sixth shooting happened in the middle of an NBC 5 interview about road rage with Martinez on Thursday.
“In fact, we’re getting information that we believe we have had a road rage incident in Oak Cliff,” he said during the interview.
The latest shooting happened just after 4 p.m. along South Hampton Road in Southwest Dallas.
Police say Tomas Rodriguez shot and killed 18-year-old Jason Soto following an argument at an intersection.
According to a police affidavit, Soto and another man were initially involved in a road rage incident.
That man reportedly called Rodriguez who then drove to the scene in his vehicle.
The three men reportedly got into an argument at an intersection.
Rodriguez told police he started following Soto’s vehicle when Soto allegedly ‘started slowing down.’
Rodriguez said he ‘believed [Soto] had something, so he fired shot(s) in the direction of [Soto’s] vehicle,’ according to the affidavit.
Rodriguez is in the Dallas County Jail facing a murder charge.
“My son is a very careful driver,” said Jose Soto, the victim’s father on Friday.
Soto says his son was headed to the barbershop on Thursday.
“He was a very good person, cared a lot about people and animals,” he said. “He might have messed up in his life, but he didn’t deserve what happened to him.”
Dallas police are also working on a permanent enforcement plan in an effort to prevent more heartache in the community.
“Law enforcement is beginning to understand what sort of crimes are going to be in the uptick after COVID-19 and I think this is one of them,” said Alex del Carmen, associate dean the School of Criminology at Tarleton State University
It is a difficult behavior to police, he adds. Emotions appear to easily be getting the best of drivers, especially young drivers and those facing issues at work or at home.
Will this plan work?
“I think it’s worth a shot,” said del Carmen. “At the end of the day there’s only so much that law enforcement can do in order to de-escalate aggressive drivers… They have to be at the right time and right place.”
Martinez says drivers may get a stern warning or citations if there are other violations committed.
“Just calm yourself down and if you really are in a need to get somewhere, then get somewhere. Let it go,” said Martinez.