Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has been on the job for only about six months, but he's already seen enough. Late Tuesday, the mayor called out Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax, demanding a plan to address violent crime in Dallas before the end of 2019.
"While I believe Dallas remains relatively safe for a major U.S. city, the level of violent crime we have seen through eleven months of 2019 is patently unacceptable. We have already far exceeded the homicide total in 2018 and Dallas is now on pace for more than 200 homicides for the first time since 2007. The number of African Americans alone who have been killed in our city in 2019 is staggering and would constitute a bad year for total homicides in many large U.S. cities," Johnson wrote to Broadnax, who is effectively Dallas' CEO.
The city's increase in aggravated assaults and robberies are further proof that violent crime is becoming a bigger problem in Dallas, according to the mayor. Robberies are up 15% in 2019 over 2018, while assaults involving a gun are up nearly 27%.
The increase in crime, Johnson writes to Broadnax, who is responsible for hiring and potentially firing Dallas' police chief, has come in spite of the actions of the City Council.
"I have exercised patience with respect to our city's crime fighting efforts in the months since I was elected mayor, and I believe our new City Council has, in those months, set up our police department for success in the future. We passed a budget that reflects the City Council's commitment to public safety," Johnson wrote. "A new pay structure and the findings of the KPMG study should help the police department attract and retain talent and become smarter about deploying resources. I created the Task Force on Safe Communities because I believe we cannot rely solely on the police department to fight crime."
Johnson calls on Broadnax to demand a plan from the police department with specific, numerical goals for a reduction in violent crime by a specific time.
"We cannot continue to accept the status quo or tolerate excuses when it comes to violent crime. While we all have roles to play to make our communities safer, we need our police department to lead the way when it comes to explaining the trends and drivers of violent crime in our city and to work aggressively to reduce it," the mayor says.
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Dallas City Council members backed up the mayor after the public release of the letter.
"I support the requests in Mayor Johnson's letter regarding violent crime across Dallas," Omar Narvaez told the Observer via text message. "It's time that a comprehensive plan be put in place and briefed before the council to address this growing issue."
Fair Park council representative Adam Bazaldua engaged in a lengthy Facebook thread with constituents about the letter Wednesday morning.
"We spen(t) a lot of money on a staffing study, and what has been done with it? What changes have been made with how we use our overtime hours? How have we (made) any changes to improve our response time on all priority calls? To the mayor's point, no plan has been established at all. We can’t sit back and expect things to just fix themselves. We have to think comprehensively for the future. The answer isn’t just filling the force with officers," Bazaldua said.