Dallas Police Chief Eddie García voiced confidence in his crime-reduction plan on Monday as murders and robberies trended down across the city during the first half of the year while aggravated assaults were slightly higher than last year.
Violent crime — which includes murders, robberies and aggravated assaults — was down about 6.3% across Dallas from January to July this year compared with the same period in 2020. Police recorded 5,054 violent crimes during that time this year, which compares with 5,392 in 2020.
There were 118 murders, which is three less than in 2020, according to department numbers. Aggravated assaults were up 6%, with 3,498 this year compared with 3,301 last year. There were 500 — or 24.8% — fewer robberies this year for a total of 1,519 offenses.
The findings, which were presented Monday to the city’s public safety committee, marked the end of the first 90-day implementation of García’s plan, which focused on increased police visibility in 47 small geographic areas — or grids — where violent crime is prevalent across Dallas.
Weekly violent crime averages decreased by about 45.7% in the treated grids after the hot spots intervention, while weekly averages outside of the grids increased by about 17.5%, according to the department analysis. Police and criminologists working with the department pointed to those stats as indicators that the chief’s plan has been effective.
“Our officers are doing tremendous work,” García said in the meeting. “There’s going to be good days, chairman and council, and there’s going to be challenging days. But we have to celebrate the positive times because we know that there will be challenging times.”
García’s plan also focuses on targeting drug houses and tackling poverty as a root cause of violent crime. The plan’s medium- and long-term strategies include using focused deterrence to change the behavior of high-risk offenders through arrests, community involvement and providing alternatives to violence.
Police are preparing to launch the next phase of the chief’s plan and, with local criminologists, have adjusted the department’s target grids to 51 small areas — 40 of which will be new. That’s out of 101,402 grids citywide.
“Most are new because crime is no longer hot in most of the original 47,” said Mike Smith, a University of Texas at San Antonio criminologist who is working on the plan with Dallas police. “But there are 11 [that are the same] and ... they’ve been problem areas in Dallas for many years.”
Smith told The Dallas Morning News that offenses may be reclassified over time, which can alter some of the tallies. He said their analysis is based on the number of incidents, rather than the number of victims.
Asked at the meeting about the increase in aggravated assaults, particularly family violence, Smith said the crime plan is a “street-level reduction strategy” that isn’t designed to address those specific offenses. However, he said, people committing crimes in homes are often the same as those being violent on the street, and aggravated assaults in the 47 grids were down about 45%.
García said he’s working on a new plan to specifically confront family violence, the draft of which is being reviewed.
“We certainly wanted to get something more specific,” García said. “I think we owe that to our community, and we’re definitely working on that.”
UTSA criminologist Rob Tillyer, who shared part of the department’s assessment, said the reduction in violent crime in the targeted grids kept numbers lower this summer than they would’ve been citywide. In the grids themselves, there was a 14.8% decrease in the number of calls for service since the plan took effect on May 7.
”You see a substantial impact on violent crimes in those grids that were treated,” Tillyer said. “That helped to hold down the broader trend in the city.”
García said there are some areas outside of the violent crime grids that have other quality-of-life issues, which he said would be “very difficult for us to address if we don’t get the proper resources we need.”
A persistent shortage of police officers has been driving up overtime costs for the city, resulting in clashing views on how to address it. Council members narrowly voted Thursday to move about a third of the $28 million budgeted for police overtime next fiscal year into a reserve fund, which would require the department to formally request to use it.
The city’s proposed $4.35 billion budget for the next fiscal year also includes plans to add 250 more police officers starting in the fall. García has said the department may be able to increase the number of grids targeted by the crime-reduction plan as the force grows.
“I’m very proud of the work that the men and women of the Dallas Police Department have done,” García said on Monday. “And how they’ve bought into the plan, and how they are truly making a difference in this city.”