In Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson's first public appearance since his letter last week demanding a crime fighting plan from the city manager and police chief, Johnson said a full year of rising violent crime has made the situation urgent.
"It's a concern. It's a significant concern," he said.
Johnson's remarks came in a question and answer session with NBC 5's Julie Fine at Johnson's first State of the City presentation to business leaders at a Dallas Regional Chamber luncheon.
Johnson said he wanted a plan that has details by the end of the year.
"What types of tactics and strategies they will implement to reduce our crime, and here's the key -- by an amount that we can put in writing, a goal, by a percentage, of a target reduction, by a time certain, so we have something concrete to work toward. I know this approach can work. I've talked to mayors and chiefs from around the country," he said.
The new mayor, who took office in June, touted a public safety pay plan in the new city budget that would keep wages in step with the suburbs.
Lone Star Politics
Covering politics throughout the state of Texas.
"We should never, in this plan, lose an officer to a surrounding city because of compensation. That has been addressed in this budget," Johnson said. "A first-year police officer in the city of Dallas makes more than a city council member does."
Johnson warned against reading between the lines of the letter to City Manager T.C. Broadnax.
Johnson said he was not disparaging Broadnax and was not seeking replacement of police chief U. Renee Hall, who has been the chief for two years.
"I don't want to be the police chief. I don't want to write the plan, but I would like to have it presented to the city council's public safety committee and myself as soon as possible, so we don't have a 2020 that looks like 2019," Johnson said.
Dallas City Council Member Tennell Atkins supported Johnson's approach to the issue.
"I think the citizens are frustrated, but we've got to come up with a plan. And I think the mayor is going down the right way to make sure we've got a plan," Atkins said.
University of Texas at Dallas Criminal Justice Expert Alex Piquero, who attended the luncheon, cautioned Johnson against requiring a specific crime reduction number.
"It can really set people up for being upset because you are not meeting expectations. I think the right course of action is, we are significantly interested in reducing our crime problems, I want short term and long term solutions," Piquero said.
Leaving the luncheon Monday, Hall said she was working on a plan and expected to have it ready by the end of the year as Johnson requested.
Without specific goals or timelines, Hall has presented crime fighting ideas to the city council in recent weeks. Those ideas are sure to be included in the plan she is drafting now.
"They've made some changes. They are implementing some hot spot strategies. So they are doing some things and I'm sure they're going to put their heads together and do more," Piquero said. "No one wants to see those numbers drop more than she does. I can assure you that."
Johnson was inaugurated June 17, the same day a gunman in tactical gear opened fire outside the Earle Cabell Federal Building in downtown Dallas.
His inauguration speech set out a five-point agenda including more civility at city hall, fighting corruption at all levels, data driven decisions on spending, improving the city's workforce and public safety.