The Dallas Police Department needs help. Whether it's 600 more police officers, better staffing policies, higher salaries or some mix of all three, no one at the department, on the City Council or in the community would dispute that something's got to give, given the public perception that the city is becoming a lawless hellscape and that officers continue to leave the department in droves for the suburbs. One of the department's biggest stopgap efforts, however, has caused one neighborhood to turn against it.
It's a classic case of too much of a thing that wasn't that good to begin with. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, having heard Dallas cops' staffing cries, agreed to reinforce DPD with a bunch of Texas state troopers in June. Many of those troopers have focused on making traffic stops in southeast Dallas, one of several high-crime areas picked out for trooper patrols by the police department. Residents, understandably, don't like it.
"I want to be clear that I support the police and appreciate all of the sacrifice and hard work that is put into keeping our city safe," Dallas City Council member Adam Bazaldua said Thursday. "Right now, we have a situation that is making my community feel not only unprotected but targeted and profiled. We cannot stand here and pretend that a tone has not been set on a national level that has understandably created divisions with communities of color and our law enforcement."
Bazaldua wants the DPD to kick the support troopers out of his council district.
"What is happening right now is wrong, and I'm asking that it stop," Bazaldua said. "(DPS troopers) are only doing what they're trained to do. The problem is they are not in the environment that they are trained to be in."
DPD responded to Bazaldua's demands with a lengthy statement touting the effectiveness of the troopers' presence.
According to the department, state troopers have made more than 9,000 traffic stops since their being assigned to Dallas, with less than 7% of those stops ending in tickets being issued to drivers. The other 93% still got stopped and had their lives intruded upon by what Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price has called an occupying force.
"Thus far during this joint operation, in less than two months, DPS Troopers and Agents have seized more than 70 guns, over 37 pounds of Marijuana, approximately 0.5 pounds of Methamphetamine and over 1.5 pounds of Cocaine," DPD says. "Troopers have made more than 400 arrests and served more than 250 warrants in the concentrated area of operation."
Quite the haul for 9,000 stops.
Backing Bazaldua up at City Hall on Thursday were council members Adam Medrano, Omar Narvaez, Chad West and Jaime Resendez. Price and Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot also lent their support.
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Price praised Bazaldua on Facebook late Thursday.
"This is the kind of courage ALL of our councilmembers should show. The time for running scared is long since past!!!" Price wrote.
Despite Bazaldua's and Price's demands, DPD has no plans to pull the troopers out of southern Dallas, according to the department's statement.
"During the month of July, the focus area of this operation at the Southeast Division has experienced a 29% reduction in violent crime," the department said. "Although there have been major reductions in violent crime in this area, there is still work to do. Murder and Robbery offenses are still up 33% and 34% respectively in this area compared to 2018. Further, this area is still experiencing the highest volume of reported violent crime offenses of the targeted enforcement areas."