Bucking the national violent crime trends in Dallas (and other updates)
The city is in a great position, but must not get complacent.
The following was adapted from my email newsletter. To sign up, visit mayorofdallas.org.
Remember where Dallas was a year ago in terms of violent crime?
The city’s violent crime reduction plan at the time — thrown together by the previous police leadership after I had to demand they create one — simply wasn’t working. Crime was rising to levels unseen in years. A sense of urgency was lacking. National trends were being cited amid shrugs. Police officers were leaving the department, and the city manager and City Council at the time had made no plans to replace many of them.
Dallas lacked crime-fighting direction. I was frustrated and publicly made clear — time and time again — what the city needed: a new police chief who took violent crime personally, and fought it with an aggressive, data-based approach and a philosophy guided by community policing principles.
The numbers continued to rise in the early part of the year. Then, new Police Chief Eddie Garcia implemented a new violent crime reduction plan — developed in partnership with criminologists at the University of Texas at San Antonio — and continued adapting the strategies as needed. The police officers of this city went to work to apprehend violent criminals. Meanwhile, the city continued to remediate blight, improve outdoor lighting, and hire violence interrupters in high-crime areas, as my Task Force on Safe Communities had recommended.
The results: Fewer victims, fewer shattered lives, and safer neighborhoods.
Dallas, the ninth-largest city in the country, is now bucking the national trends when it comes to violent crime. The all-of-the-above blueprint in place here is working. And it will be supplemented by the new City Council’s critical investments in public safety. This includes paying competitive salaries to police officers, restoring the police overtime budget, taking new efficiency measures, and hiring 500 officers over the next two years, which will finally grow the police department again in this growing city.
But this is not a victory lap. It’s a call to action. The men and women of the Dallas Police Department are working hard to fight against the national current. And the number of victims is still too high (and it always will be as long as any lives in Dallas are forever altered by violence).
Dallas must double down and continue to fight violent crime in a strategic way. And the city needs community support in these efforts.
So stay engaged in the year ahead. The goal must be to make Dallas the safest major city in the country.
Complacency in pursuit of that goal is not an option.
Park of the Month
The Park of the Month is a bit different this month as it is not part of the traditional Dallas Park and Recreation system. But it’s something of a hidden gem in plain sight.
December’s Park of the Month is Sammons Park in the Arts District!
Elaine D. and Charles A. Sammons Park — the formal name — ties together the venues of the AT&T Performing Arts Center. The park is itself a venue for local performing artists, and it recently served as the site of Reliant Lights Your Holidays, an incredible music-and-entertainment event that my family enjoyed. There was even “snow” for kids to play with and a few holes of mini-golf there. The thousands in attendance also watched fireworks that were shot from the Winspear Opera House.
Michelle Desvigne of Paris and JJR of Chicago designed the park, which features a large donor reflecting pool. Sammons Park is a wonderful part of the Arts District, which is one of the top arts districts in the nation.
Dallas needs parks like those you’ve read about all year long, and it needs public spaces like Sammons Park, too, to help tie together its most unique neighborhoods.
Here are a few more quick updates for you:
- The South Oak Cliff Golden Bears are playing for the state championship on Saturday at AT&T Stadium. This team embodies the tenacity, strength, and resilience of the South Oak Cliff community. Cheer on your team to bring the trophy home to Dallas!
- As promised, the list of policy priorities for City Council committees is out. Stay tuned for more to come on these crucial issues.
- The creation of a new City Commission on Disabilities passed the City Council unanimously. This means that disabled residents will have a seat at the table when it comes to policymaking at the city. Read about this important initiative here.
- The City Council also recently approved a new public-private partnership to help address housing affordability challenges. Read about it in the Dallas Business Journal.
- I recently spoke at the kickoff for Bonton Farms’ Project Gamechanger and the ribbon-cutting at For Oak Cliff’s AT&T Connected Learning Center. These projects demonstrate how vital community support is to changing lives in Dallas.
- Please stay safe this winter by getting a COVID-19 booster shot and a flu shot. And wear a mask in large crowds.
- D Magazine *almost* got the right answer when naming the best Ugly Christmas Sweater on the Dallas City Council. But at least they agreed that Raekwon is, indeed, the best emcee in the Wu-Tang Clan.
- The BMW Dallas Marathon made its triumphant return last week, and it was, as usual, a wonderful event. The kids loved it, too. William finished the two-mile race without breaking a sweat. And George notched a second-place finish in the kids’ 100-meter dash. So proud of these boys, who must have gotten their speed from Nikki.
That’s all for today. Have a great weekend, and finish up your Christmas shopping.
And let’s go, Golden Bears!