New Reaction to DPS and Dallas Mayor's Violent Crime Plans

Critics who attacked past DPS role support new approach to state help for Dallas Police

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There was new reaction Thursday to a Texas Department of Public Safety plan and Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson's critique of rising violent crime.

Governor Greg Abbott Wednesday ordered Texas DPS to provide new support in the way of helicopters, planes and investigators to aid Dallas Police.

A Dallas Police statement said the DPS resources would be used differently than in the summer of 2019 when state troopers reported for duty at police substations.

At that time, the troopers mainly performed traffic enforcement. They received strong criticism from residents who said it amounted to harassment.

“We need the law enforcement to act in a manner that is providing safety and protection to the community and not act in a manner that will harm us,” community leader Tabitha Wheeler-Reagan said.

She spoke at a July 2019 community meeting with Police Chief U. Renee Hall and state officials, where City Councilman Adam Bazaldua was also a critic of the DPS response.

“I would say that the approach this year with DPS mutual aid is a much better one than it was last year. And it is more aligned with the community’s public safety needs. I believe utilizing the additional resources for the back end and investigative purposes allows the Dallas Police Department to focus on what needs to be done on the street,” Bazaldua said.

With more than 220 homicides reported in Dallas so far this year compared with about 180 at the same time last year, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson Wednesday said a promised ‘full-court press’ from Chief Hall should include all crimes.

“People need to know that if something happens, the police will be there and respond,” Johnson said. “The criminal element in this city has gotten the message somehow that we’re not going to respond or respond quickly to certain crimes that are committed in our community and that has to end. And I believe, or I’m told, that’s what full-court press means.”

A recent gambling bust by the Dallas Police Vice Unit received praise at a meeting of the Northwest Dallas Business Association Thursday where Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot was a featured guest.

In the past, Creuzot has said he was backing of prosecution of some lesser drug and property crimes as a part of his criminal justice reform plan.

“And when customers are afraid to come to our area because of those things, we certainly want to see them solved,” Association President Eric Lindberg said.

Thursday, Creuzot showed evidence of how property and drug prosecution has continued in his administration.

“Make no mistake, his office is going to prosecute criminals, especially the violent ones,” Lindberg said.

Mayor Johnson said Wednesday that he wants to see police reform activists who demonstrated this year take up the crusade against violent crime.

Bazaldua said activists already oppose violence.

“Activists have always been out to stop violent crime,” Bazaldua said. “It’s always been a matter of people’s opinions of how we get there.”

Tabitha Wheeler-Reagan is already started working on one reform measure, the use of violence interrupters instead of police, to help keep people away from crime.

“Our feet are on the ground every single day, we're combating violence, reducing crimes and connecting the community with resources,” she said.

Past efforts to be tough on drugs and small crimes have only caused harm in disadvantaged communities, according to Wheeler-Reagan.

“It will not solve the crime. It will continue to go on, as it has in the past. When they were hard on crime in the ’90s and '80s there’s people now who cannot get jobs because they were prosecuted at a higher rate in these communities than in other communities,” she said.

Violence interrupters were one of several recommendations from a task force appointed by Major Johnson. Wednesday the Mayor also called for better public reporting of progress on new efforts to attack violence.

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