Recent Shootings, Event Permits and Illegal Paper Tags Top Items for Dallas Public Safety Meeting

The Dallas Public Safety Committee meets on Monday to review the recent spike in crime

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Monday afternoon the Dallas Public Safety Committee, which is made up of seven council members, will hear from police about the recent spike in crime, an update on the Violent Crime Reduction Plan and illegal paper tags.

City leaders and Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia echo that the city's plan to combat crime is working despite a recent spike in homicides in the last month.

"Obviously it's very concerning, I do think we've got a good plan in place. It's only gone through its third phase of three months apiece. We are seeing that it's working, but there's still violent crime out there," said Dallas Council Member Gay Donnell Willis, who represents District 13.

To put this all into perspective, in March of last year, there were 13 murders. In March of this year, that number nearly doubled.

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However, Willis said there is some progress.

The Violent Crime Reduction Plan started at the end of 2021. DPD identified what it called "47 grids" or hot spots for a crime that they're targeting. Of the 47, 23 are in the southern part of Dallas.

In a news release last week, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax stated that street-level violent crime dropped 66% in those areas.

"I think we have been very successful with regard to seeing the violent crime plan work with the grid approach and having the focus of deterrence as Chief Garcia has called it, and some of that is undercover and some of it is very visible in the neighborhood and that combination has been successful," explained Willis.

Willis said certain crime trends such as assaults and robberies are trending down in the last few months, since the implementation of these new efforts by DPD.

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She said there's still a concern though over what's taken place in the last few weeks, including a deadly mass shooting at an outdoor event in southern Dallas and a different deadly shooting at an event outside a concert venue.

DPD said as of March 31, murders are up by 6 victims since 2021.

During the committee meeting, Paul Junger, Major of Police for the Dallas Police Department, is expected to present an update to the Violent Crime Reduction Plan. According to the presentation, which is listed on the city's agenda page, in March of 2022 there were 22 murders, compared to 13 in 2021.

"With a plan that's so new, that just started at the end of last year we have to see it through, and we have seen a lot of progress. There are going to be occurrences where you may see some of these numbers from month-to-month increase again, but overall you've really got to look at the bigger picture, 'Is this plan working? Are we seeing decreases in all of these categories?' And we have been seeing decreases and we still are and because of the scenarios where you may have more people involved it may cause a category unfortunately like murder to go up. But I think that with the effort that we've seen and the fact that the resources have been focused we have seen that decline, that is what we've got to keep our eye on," said Willis, who said it's too early to make any changes to the plan.

Chief Garcia is also expected to discuss permits for large events. He said events, where shootings took place, had the proper paperwork to operate.

At the most recent event, there were seven off-duty officers who were hired to work the event. Garcia said they left before the shooting happened, and said the officers should not have been cleared to work the event since the organizers did not have a permit.

Last week Garcia issued a department-wide memorandum requiring officers accepting off-duty employment at an event with more than 100 guests to contact the department's special events unit to ensure the event has a permit.

"Another benefit of this mechanism is if we find out an event is not permitted and someone has reached out to DPD to provide off-duty officers, well now it’s on the radar and we know about it and they can investigate that to ensure they either have the proper safety and that they definitely have a permit before that event can be held," said Willis.

She said the council will also discuss if there's further action that needs to happen immediately or in the future.

"Of course, we want to encourage fun big events in our large beautiful city that the citizens can enjoy, but we also have to have that walk hand in hand with safety," she said.

Another top item will be illegal paper tags. It's an issue NBC 5 Investigates has looked into over the course of several months.

During the meeting, DPD plans to highlight the impact it's had and solutions to mitigate illegal tags.

"We've been hearing a lot about it and the presentation will allow us to review the history of this, and understand why people have the paper tags. Is it stolen vehicles? Are they just trying to avoid sales tax or pay tolls? And where are they getting these tags? So is it a fraudulent dealership? Is it someone who is manufacturing these tags for an unsuspecting person maybe buying them? But they're selling them somehow and some of it is across social media, so DPD will be monitoring that," said Willis.

The meeting starts at 1 p.m. on Monday.

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