Four months into 2020, the year Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall was supposed to address the city's violent crime problem, and violent crime is still up in Dallas over the same period in 2019. Things aren't all bad, according to the chief, but Dallas' multi-faceted plan to drive down its murder and violent crime rates isn't on pace to meet the goals Hall set earlier this year.
In January, when Hall released her plan to reduce violent crime after Dallas suffered more than 200 homicides in 2019, it had one concrete target — reducing the city's overall violent crime rate by 5%. So far this year, according to stats presented by Hall Monday, violent crime in Dallas is up 4.2% in Dallas over the same stretch of 2019.
Essentially all of the increase in violent crime can be chalked up to an increase in aggravated assaults. That's where the silver lining comes in. Murders are down 5.7%, sex crimes are down 17.2%. Robberies are down 15.4%. That's all good news, but aggravated assaults, the city's most common violent crime, are up 22.7%.
Hall also noted that, when she made her last report to the City Council's public safety committee, the city's crimes stats were even more upside down.
According to the chief, the increase in aggravated assaults can be chalked up in part to disputes, often over drugs, turning violent. Crime is not sheltering-in-place, Hall said.
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"The criminal element has not dissipated because of the stay-at-home order," Hall said. "Our regular citizens are staying at home but (criminals are not)."
Members of the committee picked over Hall's report. North Dallas' Cara Mendelsohn, a frequent sparring partner for the chief at City Hall, wondered why Hall seemed to be celebrating, despite the fact that crime had actually gone up.
"We have a lot of work to do," Hall replied. "We aren't waving any flags of success."
Southern Dallas' Carolyn King Arnold, who's seemingly grown more restless with the pandemic-inspired lockdown by the week, predicted that things are going to get worse the longer the city remains under emergency orders: "People are going to start shooting each other, fighting, stealing so they can feed their family."