Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia touts city's drop in violent crime in interview with FOX 4

Pick any major city in the country, and there will likely never be an end to violent crime.

Dallas is no different, but the city’s chief of police believes data shows the city is trending in the right direction.

Nearing the end of 2022, overall violent crime in the city of Dallas is down more than 6% compared to last year.

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia sat down for a one-on-one interview with FOX 4’s David Sentendry Friday.

"There’s no time to celebrate in this job. You’ve got to keep working hard," Garcia said.

Garcia pointed to data highlighting a decrease in murders, aggravated assaults, robberies of individuals, and more.

There’s one major category seeing a slight increase, and that’s robberies of businesses. There were 439 in 2022, compared to 433 in 2021, but overall, violent crime is down.

"Violent crime gun offenses is one thing that I’m very proud of, which is down almost 6% this year," Garcia said.

Garcia came to Dallas in 2021 following one of Dallas’ most violent years in decades. 

Overall, violent crime is down 13% compared to 2020.

"And that’s a total of almost 1,700 less victims this year than we had in 2020," Garcia added.

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The chief’s violent crime reduction plan began in May 2021. 

The city was broken down into more than 100,000 micro-locations, or "grids." 

The department began increasing visibility at 50 of those grids where it said violent crime is concentrated. 

An example was 3550 East Overton Road. 

In 2021, it was the most violent grid.

Now, Dallas PD said it’s no longer makes the list.

"The thinking was that by reducing violent crime in those areas that we will reduce violent crime overall, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing," Garcia explained.

Some department issues, however, are worsening. Specifically, police response times.

"Yeah, response times is definitely a challenge," Garcia said.

The department is receiving more calls. 

Its goal is to respond to Priority 1 calls — the most pressing — within eight minutes.

Last year’s average was 8.27 minutes, and this year was more than a full minute slower, 9.51 minutes. 

Priority 2 response times are nearly doubling. They were at 37.32 minutes last year, and 64.51 minutes this year.

Similar trends seen for Priority 3 and 4 calls.

"And so we need to look at things differently moving forward. We need to look at our department, look at our city, look at if we need to change the way we district areas," Garcia said. "Population growth, population shifts, calls for service shifts. And so we’re going to be looking at all of that."

Garcia said the department is still about 100 officers short of being fully staffed.

"We’re playing seven-person baseball…we’re doing our best to put those seven position players where we think hitters are going to hit the ball, but sometimes the ball falls where we don’t have those position players, we don’t have the full nine," Garcia said. "So as we grow as an organization, we’ll be able to impact that."

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Chief Garcia maintains concern about what happens after arrests. 

He said more than 80% of arrests made by Dallas PD’s Fugitive Unit are people with prior arrests. 

More than a quarter are out on bond within two weeks.

"That does not give me a lot of confidence. It shouldn’t give anyone a lot of confidence," he said. "Something must be done."

Garcia said Dallas PD will continue to implement a holistic approach to policing, which means working with city departments, faith leaders and businesses to change culture and violent crime behavior, while providing avenues to jobs, education, and more.