Plans to reduce Dallas violent crime have failed so far this year.
As of Thursday, the homicide rate was just slightly below last year’s extremely high level with 119 reported compared with 122 at the same time in 2019.
Aggravated assault that is not family violence-related was up 30% with 757 more assaults this year than last. Those assaults are often similar gun crimes to homicides with the difference being that the victim survived.
Families of the victims are grieving.
One victim was 16-year-old Homer Escobar who was shot in broad daylight at Arcadia Park last week. Friends and relatives called him 'Bubba.'
“And we need justice for him. For a 16-year-old to get murdered in a park, to get murdered in a park,” said Luis Miguel Rodriguez, the victim’s cousin.
On July 9, 44-year-old Johnson Mchaina Mdoe was killed by a robber at a 7-11 store on LBJ Freeway near Audelia where Mdoe worked as a clerk.
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The victim’s husband, Glenn Brock, said the robber took $20, some cigars and lottery tickets and then shot the clerk.
“A customer came in and found him lying there on the concrete inside the store,” Brock said. “He’s been through two gunpoint robberies at 7-11. The second one was fatal.”
Wednesday there were two separate murders on Prichard Lane in the Pleasant Grove area. The first was reported to police at 2:49 a.m. The second one happened around 8:45 p.m.
Dallas City Council Member Cara Mendelsohn said Dallas must find a way to reduce crime despite the distractions of coronavirus and social justice protests.
“We need to find a way to support public safety and lower crime,” Mendelsohn said. “We don't need less officers. We need more support for DPD.”
In January, Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall set a goal of 5% violent crime reduction in a 2020 plan that was delivered after Mayor Eric Johnson said the 2019 homicide numbers were unacceptable.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata said coronavirus and other distractions are not acceptable excuses for the lack of progress.
“We really don’t know what our crime strategy has been this year so the fact of COVID, in my opinion, is not a viable excuse,” Mata said.
During weeks of stay at home orders for regular citizens, Mata said police should have had an advantage on criminals.
“That criminal element should have been easier to find because they were still out there committing the violent crimes. So we needed to have a better crime-fighting strategy,” Mata said.
The grieving families want action.
Glenn Brock said his husband came to the United States from Africa and his relatives back across the globe want answers.
“You look at Hollywood films and America looks like a very beautiful place, but something like this can happen,” Brock said.
People who knew 16-year-old Bubba Escobar gathered at Arcadia Park recently to share their concerns.
“We want answers now. We want the police department, homicide, detectives, DA, everybody, not to sit on this,” neighbor Julie Vazquez said.
With reductions in robbery and rape added to the high assault numbers, violent crime in Dallas is up only .53% percent overall compared with last year, but violent crime is still up. Reductions in property crimes reported to police during the pandemic make the overall crime rate down 3.48%.
In response to a request for comment Thursday, Mayor Eric Johnson issued a statement:
“Violent crime continues to be unacceptably high in our city, and we do not appear to be on track to meet the goals that the city manager and police chief set in January in the plan I had requested. I expect that our Public Safety Committee will demand answers very soon," Johnson’s statement said.
Dallas Police Spokesman Sergeant Warren Mitchell provided a statement on behalf of the department:
“Any Violent crime is a concern and the men and women of the Dallas Police Department will continue to work diligently toward making this city safe. While we recognize that violent crime is at a +0.53%, we will continue to collaborate with city officials and community leaders to assess new ideas to address all crime in the City of Dallas. The department is prepared to move forward to provide our community the service and protection they deserve during these trying times,” the DPD statement said.