There are concerns about whether Dallas will experience another violent summer.
Recent crimes have some people concerned about what lies ahead as we head into a summer with things opening back up.
A Dallas mother tells NBC 5 she feels more at peace knowing the man accused of killing her son-in-law is now in custody. Police had been searching for the person who killed 35-year-old Francisco Villanueva Rodriguez at a strip club in May.
The latest news from around North Texas.
Police zeroed in on the suspect Julio Guerrero and took him into custody on Wednesday after an hours-long standoff in East Oak Cliff.
Guerrero is also accused of shooting a 3-year-old girl at a gas station in May.
This case is just one of an increasing number of violent crimes in Dallas this year.
There have been 85 murders so far, up from 77 murders during the same time period last year, according to the Dallas Police Association.
Certain crimes have declined, including robberies, according to year-to-date figures released in April.
However, homicides increased by 45%.
There were 26 more murders year-to-date in April than there were in the same time period in 2020.
Aggravated assaults involving family violence increased by 13%.
Police and experts fear the number of violent crimes will only increase in the coming months.
Summer months traditionally see an uptick in crimes.
However, there’s an increase of concern now that COVID-fears are easing up and the pandemic’s toll sets in.
“We all agree it’s going to be a historical wave of mental health-related issues in the next few years,” said Alex del Carmen, Associate Dean and Professor at the School of Criminology at Tarleton State University.
Del Carmen is optimistic about new Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia’s plan to fight crime.
The plan uses neighborhood characteristics to predict where crime may happen. It increases lighting in neighborhoods with crime problems and targets abandoned buildings that are often exploited by criminals.
“In theory, it seems to be in the right path and in the right direction,” said del Carmen of the plan.
Though the criminologist cautions against efforts that may simply displace crime to other parts of the community.
“Part of the problem is you bring all these crime strategies in play, you keep them in there for six months, eight months, you see that the crime index goes down and then we go back to a certain degree of normality because most cities can’t sustain that level of involvement,” he said.
Del Carmen stresses the need for funding to see crime-preventing programs through long-term, as well as more mental health intervention resources for police departments.
There’s also the continued need for more officers in Dallas.
“It’s the same 14% of the [criminal] populations that are out there committing these crimes,” said Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association.
Mata points to repeat offenders like Guerrero that are allowed to go free, only to re-offend.
Mata is also concerned about the rise in ‘crimes of passion,’ those that are not typically premeditated including road rage shootings and family violence. These are crimes Mata says are difficult to target.
“The American public, the citizens of Dallas need to look in the mirror themselves and they need to figure out how to de-escalate their situations before they turn violent and police have to come to that scene,” he said.
Dallas police and city leaders will meet to discuss the latest crime statistics on Monday.