Public Safety in Dallas is top of mind as we enter the summer months.
On the heels of large parties that turned violent, the city’s Public Safety Committee said it will likely move to place an ordinance on the June 22 agenda with new rules for party and event promoters.
Dallas Police Deputy Chief Teena Schultz presented a report to the committee with data supporting the proposed ordinance.
“There’s been an increasing number of events occurring without plans in place to ensure adequate crowd management, crowd control and security,” said Schultz.
Throughout the process, the Public Safety Committee has relied on the police department, the city’s Convention and Event Services and community input to address safety concerns and gaps at large events.
During the months of May and June, 10 community forums were held to answer questions and clear up specifics about the proposed ordinance.
“The ordinance is designed to ensure that responsible commercial promoters and venue operators plan events with risk management in mind,” Schultz said.
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If adopted, those in violation of the ordinance could face a $2,000 fine.
Police response times were also discussed at length during Monday’s meeting. Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia acknowledged the need for improvement.
“Calls for service have dramatically increased. Priority one calls that life and death calls have increased as well,” Garcia said.
Priority 1 calls for service have increased by more than 5% over the past year. Response times have increased by more than 10%.
“This is really important because, on average, there are about five officers required for each one of these scenes,” said Robert Uribe, 911 administrator for the Dallas Police Department.
The police department presented options it hopes will improve the time it takes officers to arrive at serious calls. One is to divert calls to an online phone reporting system or to other city departments when applicable. Another option is civilian response teams.
“The second option that we're presenting today is a little bit out of the box for us,” Uribe said. “But what we would prefer is that we create a civilian unit to respond to these low priority type calls.”
Ultimately, the committee, while it agrees there should be a solution to response times, expressed concerns about the options presented. Garcia said he will continue to explore and refine solutions.
“These are just options that other departments have tried,” Garcia said. “What’s right for our city may not be right for ours.”