In 2015, there was a 6% spike in violent crime and an increase in response times in Dallas. There have also been increases in violent crime across the country. As a result, our 2016 strategy includes a readjustment of officer schedules and proactive responses to crime spikes earlier in the year than we have in the past. We must adapt to a changing environment with a sense of urgency.
There are a total of 3,490 officers on the department with approximately 2,400 in field assignments. This staffing allocation has worked to reduce crime 12 consecutive years (53% total crime reduction) and has pushed Dallas’ crime rates to 40, 50, and 80 year lows. But now we must adjust and reallocate resources to continue the decline in crime. Our temporary reallocation of some officers to the evening hours is not sustainable and will require a permanent readjustment.
Our crime analysis shows that both domestic violence and drug related crimes are the primary drivers of our violent crime increases this year and that these violent crimes, for the most part, are happening in the evening hours.
We have a 2016 plan to continue the decline in crime. Our plan involves nearly 600 Dallas officers, some who have adjusted their work schedules to evening shifts and others who we have redirected their activities. This effort includes but is not limited to:
The Violent Crime Task Force, foot patrols, 2 week rotations to patrol, Domestic Violence Warrant Team, Drug House Warrant Team, Property Crime Task Force and collaboration with local, state, and federal law enforcement, the City Attorney’s Office, and state and federal prosecutors.
In meetings with local and state law enforcement representatives, we all agreed that our most effective collaboration initially will be domestic violence warrant responsibilities, drug house warrants and other drug related crime enforcement, and gang enforcement efforts. We are strengthening our relationships with our law enforcement partners so that we can continue to see a decline in crime.
Already, we are making progress. Response times have improved and violent crime has come down 11% since the 1st of March. This is an evolving operational strategy and adjustments will be made as needed.
In summary, violent crime is up across the country and we must adapt to a changing environment. With criminals having no boundaries, neither should law enforcement. We are confident that with our 2016 plan we will continue to see a decline in crime. However, we will need the support of our citizens. We will need your continued prayers for our officers and an acknowledgement of appreciation for their hard work. Citizens can participate by being our eyes and ears through our volunteers in patrol program, crime watch, and engage with us through social media. We all need to work together to continue the decline in crime.