Fort Worth

Eric Johnson Inaugurated as Mayor of Dallas

Dallas mayor-elect says now is not the time to discuss a leadership change at the Dallas Police Department

Texas State Rep. Eric Johnson became the new Mayor of Dallas Monday morning as an active shooter opened fire downtown in the middle of a spike in violent crime.

In his inaugural speech Monday, Johnson set out a five-point agenda including more civility at city hall, fighting corruption at all levels, data driven decisions on spending, improving the city's workforce and public safety.

Johnson said tackling crime will be the first thing on his agenda and he has already met with leaders of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Johnson said he expected additional help from DPS in curbing crime.

"It involves manpower. It involves equipment. It involves inter-jurisdictional cooperation at the city level, the state level with DPS and even county and federal," Johnson said. "This is being taken very seriously."

Dallas has around 700 fewer police officers than it did in 2011.

Johnson also hopes to address police department staffing with the new city council.

He comes into office when some in the Dallas Police Department are asking for a change in leadership — calling for the replacement of Chief U. Renee Hall.

"Chief Hall and I have not sat down and talked, but I do believe that this is not the time to discuss and not to play out in public a leadership change," Johnson said. "I think we need to assess the situation and figure out what exactly her plan is and what we are going to do to get the situation in Dallas under control."

Johnson was sworn in Monday along with six other new members of the Dallas City Council.

Council member Chad West said he agreed that Hall deserved more time.

"I'd like to see what Chief Hall can do once she has a full staff, and then we need to find some creative ways to keep officers," West said.

Keeping and hiring more officers could require additional pay raises and a larger police budget.

"That is exactly what we're going to be talking about, because that's what the residents and the citizens are demanding from us," new councilman David Blewitt said.

A budget briefing for the new city council is scheduled Tuesday.

"I think it's going to be a good fresh start for us all to build those consensuses, start working together. And that's going to be part of the fun," new councilman Adam Bazaldua said.

Johnson said Dallas would deal with the challenge of rising crime, but insisted it should not be called a public safety crisis.

"It makes people more prone to be fearful when they shouldn't be," Johnson said. "Dallas is still one of the safest large cities in the United States and our goal is to keep it that way."

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