Dallas mayor's task force to look for non-police solutions to combat crime

The new mayor of Dallas says he wants to look at options outside of law enforcement to target the recent rise in violent crime in the city.

Mayor Eric Johnson announced on Monday he's forming a task force. He wants recommendations by the end of the year. He cited last week's killing of a 9-year-old girl as one of many catalysts behind the task force's formation.

The announcement of the violent crime taskforce comes as Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall has been on leave for almost a month and a half, the city has seen five murders in three days last week and DPS Troopers are in Dallas assisting patrols.

“We owe it to Brandoniya to do everything we can to prevent violent crime in our communities,” Johnson said. “We cannot rely on law enforcement to solve this problem. There is something going on in our communities in Dallas that’s leading to this.”

Mayor Johnson announced his first mayoral task force to combat violent crime in the city, saying he cannot expect law enforcement to do it all when people already ask cops to do too much.

Johnson says it will be The Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities that will look at “holistic and data-driven solutions for communities disproportionately affected by violent crime.” He did not say what specific data the task force would be looking at.

The mayor introduced three people he has already chosen to lead the task force: Alan Cohen with the Child Poverty Action Lab, Rene Martinez with the League of United Latin American Citizens and Dr. Michael Bowie, the senior pastor of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel, but we are going to collaborate all of our efforts and come together,” Bowie said.

“What’s the most robust fact base that we can get?” Cohen said. “So we want to talk to a whole lot of people, and we want to gather as much data as we can.”

“It’s my hope that the Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities will collect and analyze all of the available data and engage with key stakeholders as well as the broader Dallas community,” Johnson said. “And then come up with specific recommendations for me and the city’s leaders to consider and implement.”

The mayor says he hopes that they will have concrete recommendations to bring to city council by the end of the year. Johnson will not have a member of the Dallas Police Department or law enforcement community on the task force because this is more focused as a community conversation informed by data.

When asked if he’s spoken with Chief Hall about the task force, Johnson only said he hadn’t spoken to her since she went on medical leave.

Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata commends the mayor.

“I agree with him. Even if we put an officer on every single corner in this city, there’s some crimes we can’t stop. Not without the community’s help,” Mata said. “We don’t have a lot of time. We’re already sitting on 140 plus murders, and there’s lives out there that will, unfortunately, be killed if we don’t act.”

It’s unclear how many more people will be called on, but the group expects to meet weekly.