Violent crime still an issue in Dallas

Dallas Police Chief David Brown faced some skeptical city council members Monday when he tried to explain the latest violent crime statistics.

The murder rate rose 47 percent, robbery is up 17 percent and aggravated assaults are up 24 percent.  The numbers are from the first four months of the year compared to the first four months of last year.

Chief Brown argued the numbers are misleading. He said crime has been cut almost in half in the past seven weeks since he moved hundreds of officers to a special task force in March. However, the number he used were being compared to a year with historic lows.

The Dallas police chief said there is a nexus to what’s happening in the Forest-Audelia area and crime across the city.

“Think of Forest-Audelia as where your hornet’s nest is, the bee-hive is. And think of a lot of little hornets all over the city,” Chief Brown said. “A lot of resources go into the Forest-Audelia area just to maintain that high volume, very dense, lot of people, gangs, drugs, guns, all that connection for the biggest city-wide impact.”

Police have flooded the Forest-Audelia area with foot patrols along with special violent crime units. Brown told the Public Safety Committee the initiative is working, despite a shrinking workforce.

“Lost 135 officers through attrition in this fiscal year,” he told the committee. “And we've only hired 75.”

For now, the department has filled the gap with sliding schedules and overtime as a temporary solution.

“We are not retaining our officers,” Chief Brown said. “Officers are leaving. Going to surrounding cities because they pay more for the 3-5 year officer.”

“We'll have to decide as a council if we want a safe community, we're gonna have to put our money where our mouth is,” Said Carolyn King with the Dallas City Council.

The chief was widely criticized by police groups and was even called to resign behind the task force move.

“You always have critics,” said Chief Brown. “What I try to do is you is not react to criticism. You have to focus on doing the job.”

It’s a job Brown warns could heat up in the summer months.

“We're up against it,” the chief said. “It’s going to be a pretty, pretty aggressive time for violent crime.”

Since March, the task force has made more than 200 arrests, investigated nearly 400 drug houses and seized more than 70 weapons.