DALLAS - A Dallas city councilman says Texas DPS troopers are targeting his constituents, and he wants them out of South Dallas.
DPS has been working with the Dallas Police Department since June to reduce a surge in violent crime.
But Dallas District 7 Councilman Adam Bazaldua says he has been flooded with complaints about DPS tactics in his district.
On Thursday, he was joined by the Dallas County DA, who made surprisingly critical comments about gun seizures during the operation.
No one from the Dallas Police Department was at the news conference, but just a short time later, DPD released a lengthy statement challenging the comments made by the councilman and district attorney.
“Right now, we have a situation that is making some in my community not only feel unprotected, but targeted and profiled,” Bazaldua said.
Joined by Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, Commissioner John Wiley Price, and several of his colleagues, Dallas Councilman Adam Bazaldua addressed what he called the "current over-policing by DPS state troopers" in his district, which includes South Dallas.
“What is happening right now is wrong, and I am asking that it stop,” Bazaldua said.
At the Dallas police chief's invitation, Texas Governor Greg Abbott deployed state troopers in June to help DPD combat a sharp increase in violent crimes.
DPD pointed out that the record murder rate of 40 homicides in May was more than double the total from April.
Since DPS arrived nearly two months ago, DPD officials say the troopers have been assisting with operations in eight "targeted areas," with the southeast patrol identified as the number one target area for crime reduction.
On Tuesday, at a heated community meeting, the DPS regional director said troopers have stopped nearly 12,000 people in the past seven weeks, confiscating 71 guns.
“That’s great to hear, but when I see the number of stops it took to get to that 71, I'm wondering if this is a sacrifice my community has to make in order to see some results,” Bazaldua added.
Dallas County's top law enforcer, the district attorney, was even more skeptical.
“First of all, you don't know if that gun would have been used in a murder,” DA Cruezot said. “I understand taking the gun if it's an illegal gun, not because you have evidence that it's about to be used to commit a murder. So there's no correlation between those.”
The Dallas Police Department strongly disagrees.
In a lengthy statement, DPD said that troopers and agents have made more than "400 arrests and served more than 250 warrants in the concentrated area of operation,” adding that "the southeast division has experienced a 29% reduction in violent crime."
Still, some South Dallas residents, including one business owner, feel the troopers’ presence is hurting their community.
“They're causing fear. People are not coming to South Dallas,” business owner Tabitha Wheeler-Reagan said.
The district attorney said his office is looking very closely at those cases to see if there was probable cause to make an arrest.
He even went so far as to say that not all of the cases will be prosecuted.
"Police agencies have gotten together and made a decision that we're going to continue to arrest these people, even though we're not going to file a case," Cruezot said.
Law enforcement consultant Dr. Alex Del Carmen is an expert on racial profiling.
“From a law enforcement side, they don't want to risk their lives and go out on a call and arrest somebody, and then for that DA to say, 'Well gee, we're not going to prosecute that because that's a petty crime,'” Dr. Del Carmen said. “I would argue, that from an administrative side, I see what he's doing, but from a practical law enforcement side, there are a lot of resentful police officers saying, 'Well, why am I risking my life?'”
The Dallas Police Association issued a statement with that sentiment, stating, "If politicians now choose to send the troopers away, don't be surprised if crime spikes again. The criminal element in Dallas knows DPD is understaffed and are unable to reduce crime to the level the community expects."
Del Carmen said that confiscating guns may or may not help reduce violent crime, but what is the alternative? What else can be done?
And, he asks of the DA, why not offer a more comprehensive plan?
“Criminals are not going to stop doing what they do because some of their guns are being confiscated, so the real question is, 'What is the long term planning?' Dr. Del Carmen asked. “Bottom line is that just the police presence alone isn't going to be enough because, at some point, they're going to have to go home.”
The DA did say it's not that he wants the troopers to stop patrolling, he just wants them to be patrolling in a more effective way.
Dr. Del Carmen said this isn't just a police problem, it's a community problem, and it's going to take much more to keep the crime rate down
The joint operation between DPS and DPD remains ongoing indefinitely.