After Dallas recorded progress reversing an increase in violent crime in 2021, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia spoke with NBC 5 Friday about how that was achieved and how he hopes to keep it going.
“Number one are the men and the women of this police department. There are a lot of things that have been said about the crime plan and things of that nature but a coach is only as good as his team. We have amazing men and women here that have bought in. The community has been very, very supportive,” Garcia said.
After arriving from San Jose, California in February 2021, Garcia put his crime plan in place in May.
Since May 2021, Garcia said murder is down 27%, robbery down 28%, aggravated assault is down 6.5% and overall violent crime is down 13%.
“No one is doing any touch-down dances here, we have a long way to go in this city, but those statistics are just as important to me as the year-end stats are,” Garcia said.
In contrast to his predecessor U. Renee Hall from Detroit who demoted inside applicants for her chief job, Garcia promoted Dallas rivals to his command staff.
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And he invited outside academic experts from the University of Texas at San Antonio to comment and provide input on Garcia’s crime-fighting plan.
“I don’t feel threatened by having great people around me. I need them to succeed. I would have been a fool to not look at people that were finalists for this position and not bring them on board. Collectively with the rest of the command staff, we’ve certainly made this police department better,” Garcia said. “We have evidence-based strategies. Some work, some we need to tweak, but it’s absolutely been part of the reduction that we’ve had.”
Part one of Garcia’s plan targeted hot spots in focused grids. Crime is down in hot spots and seizures of drugs and guns were up.
To conserve precious police manpower, Garcia is asking the Dallas City Council to close adult nightclubs between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.
One Dallas City Council Committee called for months of study of the request, but then another pushed it forward to a full City Council briefing Wednesday on the request.
Mayor Eric Johnson announced Friday that he would schedule a formal city council vote on the closure request later in January.
Garcia cited the example of a 5 a.m. homicide at a Northwest Dallas adult club on Wednesday as a tragic example.
He said there was chaos and more than 20 shots fired as other people were going to work.
“Our residents don’t need to see that. And we have the data in place to show what we’ve been trying to do is avoid those incidents from occurring. So I’m hopeful that it will go through.
Additional parts of Garcia’s plan for 2022 involve place network investigations and blight reduction.
The place network investigations will survey residents of higher crime areas for problems like lighting, street repair and other community problems that involve more than police response.
Next blight abatement would work to remove abandoned buildings and trash.
“Yes, there's a criminal element that we need to take out of those areas but we also need to recognize there are areas that need reinvestment,” Garcia said.
Mayor Eric Johnson’s safer communities task force recommended many of these same approaches before Garcia arrived.
“In a lot of ways, it’s not about reinventing the wheel. It’s about putting these great ideas into play,” Garcia said.
City Council Members have pledged support for these plans and included many of them in the new city budget that took effect in October.