Dallas police are putting finishing touches on a new plan for violent crime demanded by year’s end at the request of Mayor Eric Johnson, according to Janella Newsome, a spokesperson for Police Chief U. Renee Hall.
Newsome said the plan would go first to the Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee for a Jan. 13 briefing.
Programs already proposed by Hall this year, as violent crime spiked, are sure to be a part of the plan, according to University of Texas at Dallas criminal justice professor Alex Piquero.
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“You have to use data about where crime is occurring. You have to use evidence based programs. And you have to have short term goals and long term goals,” he said.
Two programs unveiled in November that had success in other cities are “Cease Fire” and “Starlight.”
The Cease Fire program targets areas of the city where repeat offenders are known to be, enlisting community support to provide alternatives to crime. Offenders who decline to cooperate are faced with tough consequences.
The Starlight program connects private business surveillance cameras for monitoring at police headquarters to expand the eyes and ears of police.
In November, Hall also started community meetings for input on a five-year plan. Johnson wanted a plan in writing by the end of 2019, with goals and a timeline.
Piquero warned against specific promises of crime reduction percentages.
“If you don’t hit that number, then you’re going to be seen, well you failed in your strategy,” he said. “I think the goal should be, we’re going to do everything we can, to reduce crime in certain locations and get the repeat offenders off of the street so that public safety is insured.”
Over the weekend, rumors surfaced that Hall was being considered for the job of Philadelphia police commissioner, that went instead Monday to the Portland, Oregon police chief, Danielle Outlaw.
Newsome said Hall received no job offer from Philadelphia, but several other sources said Philadelphia officials had asked Dallas officials about Hall.
Piquero once worked at Temple University in Philadelphia and studied the police force there.
“It’s a comparable city in many respects,” he said.
Philadelphia has a slightly larger population, but much smaller land area and more than twice as many police officers.
The numbers amount to 2.3 police officers for every 1,000 residents in Dallas compared with 4.1 officers in Philadelphia. Dallas has eight police officers per square mile and Philadelphia has 45 officers per square mile.
But Philadelphia had 353 murders in 2019 as of Monday morning, compared with 207 in the same period in Dallas.
“Simply having more officers doesn’t automatically translate into less crime,” Piquero said. “What matters the most is what the officers do on the street.”
More than 200 homicides was the most in Dallas in more than a decade and Johnson wants a plan from police that will reverse the violent crime rate with the officers Dallas has.
He also appointed a citizen task force that is working on programs the community can tackle to support police.
“It’s a real deal and I think we’re going to see some change in 2020,” Piquero said.
Hall arrived in Dallas from Detroit two years ago and most Dallas leaders are still supporting her. But George Aranda, president of the Dallas chapter of the National Latino Law Enforcement Organization has called for her replacement.