DALLAS - A group will meet privately Monday to talk about ways to bring down violent crime numbers in Dallas.
Sixteen people with various backgrounds are set to talk over possible plans to help their community and police.
The 16 men and women are all part of the Dallas mayor's task force on safer communities. It was formed in direct response to a spike in violent crime in the city of Dallas that has resulted in over 140 murders so far this year. Monday’s initial meeting is closed to the public, giving members a chance to get to know one another.
Christine Chandler has lived in a South Dallas neighborhood for nearly 30 years. She says violent crime has gotten worse over the past several months.
“Somebody needs to step up and be a voice to figure out what is the root of the problem and to try and get the root of the problem solved,” Chandler said.
Mayor Eric Johnson is hoping his task force on safer communities will be that voice. It was formed after the shooting death of 9-year-old Brandoniya Bennett, who was killed inside her grandmother's Old East Dallas apartment. She was the unintended victim of beef between two men.
The 16-member group is tasked with finding ways to combat violent crime in Dallas.
UT-Dallas Criminology Professor Alex Piquero is on the task force and eager to get to work.
“My hope is that we are able to provide counsel and advice to the mayor and the mayor's staff about non-police led solutions that involve community insight and data-driven approaches,” he said.
The data-driven solutions will supplement law enforcement efforts.
During the month of May alone, there were 40 murders in Dallas. To date, there have been more than 140 this year. That’s a body count not seen since the 1990s.
With the Dallas Police Department severely understaffed, Governor Greg Abbott sent DPS Troopers in July to Dallas at the request of Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall. But the troopers' presence in some of the city's eight target areas, including South Dallas, have been met with resistance.
Many residents have complained to the city council that troopers are over-policing their communities and targeting people through traffic stops along city streets.
Chandler's own son was tased in her front yard after refusing to stop and talk to a trooper.
Professor Piquero is confident the task force can come up with meaningful solutions.
“I have high expectations of what we'll be able to accomplish as a group,” Piquero said.
Chandler hopes so.
“We need it. We need it. We need it,” she said.
Brandoniya Bennett's mother says she hopes something positive comes from her daughter’s death.