Dallas mayor sees crime fall as it spikes in other Dem-run cities: 'We are supporting our police'
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson rejects defunding police, says 'a budget that reflects public safety' must be city's top priority
While other major cities across the U.S. have been experiencing record spikes in violent crime, Dallas, Texas, had seen an about 8.5% reduction by the end of last month.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, a Democrat, told Fox News Digital he attributed that success to three things – a strong police chief, having "a budget that reflects public safety being your city's top priority," and ensuring there’s "community buy-in" for crime reduction.
The city budget included funding to "improve officer morale" by paying officers market-rate salaries to ensure they’re not getting paid less than officers in surrounding communities and restoring the police overtime budget that was slashed from the previous budget.
TEXAS POLICE OFFICER KILLED IN SHOOTOUT WITH SUSPECT
"We've done things that we need to do in the moment that we take public safety seriously here," Johnson said. "And I think that, you know, sort of flies in the face with some cities that have done in response to some of the defund the police movement and whatnot."
As the outgoing police commissioner in New York City and others have recognized criminals feel increasingly "emboldened" when they know officers will not respond to crime, such as smash and grab robberies, Johnson affirmed the need for officers to maintain a presence in communities.
"It's important to have a presence, a police presence in your city, and it's important that criminals not get the impression that they can engage in illegal activities and there won’t be a police response," Johnson said. The budget also includes funding for new squad cars to have more personnel in the community to show that presence, as well as recruitment.
Following 2020’s already historically bloodied year, 12 major U.S. cities – all run by Democrats – have broken annual homicide records for 2021. For Texas, Austin was among those cities on the nationwide list, but contrastingly, Dallas’ fate is more optimistic, as crime is declining.
This year through Nov. 30, Dallas saw an 8.47% reduction in overall violent crime compared with last year, according to statistics from the violent crime reduction plan update presented last week to City Council’s Public Safety Committee. Murders are down by 12.23%, while total robberies also declined by 29.04%.
"We're not taking a victory lap here," Johnson said. "We're glad to be in a very small group of cities where the crime is going down. And given how much it’s going up other places, you have to say that it's going down pretty significantly, and we're happy about that."
"We’re not done," the mayor said. "Our goal has always been the same as to be the safest big city in America. And we're not there yet, but we're going to keep working until we are."
Since the inception of Dallas police Chief Eddie Garcia’s new crime fighting plan on May 7, Dallas has seen a decline in homicides, robberies and aggravated assaults.
TEXAS SCHOOL DISTRICT INVESTIGATING AFTER SUSPECT APPEARS TO POINT GUN AT SCHOOL BUS, VIDEO SHOWS
As part of the plan, police have been working to identify violent "hotspots" and have been increasing officer presence in 51 small grids out of 101,402 across the city.
"It took getting a new police chief in here who believed in the importance of actually having a sort of kitchen sink approach to fighting violent crime and knowing that we needed to have a plan to address violent crime and to really get things moving in the right direction," Johnson told Fox News Digital.
"Our chief is committed to making sure that we actually reduce violence by going where violence is and not pretending like we don't know where the parts of our city are," Johnson said. "The crime numbers are being driven by certain what they call micro-grids here in our city -- small areas where if we target those areas, we can make a disproportionate impact on the overall crime rate."
During last week's committee meeting, Dallas Major of Police Paul Junger said November was the fourth consecutive month the department recorded fewer aggravated assault victims than the same month in 2020. By Nov. 30, aggravated assaults had decreased by .35% to 7,395, or 26 fewer victims.
Johnson told Fox News Digital his administration has established a task force of community members to develop non-law enforcement-based solutions to combating crime, including remediation of blight, improving lighting in high crime areas and creating violence interruption programs.
"I think you have to make sure that you have community buy-in for crime reduction," the mayor said, "that there's a role that non-law enforcement folks play in making your city safer."
The city witnessed 201 homicides by Nov. 30, representing a 12.23% decline compared to the 229 murders that happened in Dallas by the same time last year. There had been 2,246 robbery-related offenses reported to police by the end of last month, an about 29.04% decrease from the 3,165 seen last year.
Johnson also stressed how reducing crime meant recruiting officers of quality to the force "because talented people have options" and the budget must reflect paying officers who are skilled in deescalation and are willing to do the dangerous job asked of them.
"Gratuitously cutting police departments to send a political message contributed to crime starting to move maybe even faster in the wrong direction in Dallas and other places," Johnson said. "But I stood pretty firm right away to the position against making cuts to our police department's overtime budget or any other aspect of our police department just for the sake of cutting for political reasons."
The mayor said after much contentious debate in 2020, Dallas has resolved that as a city it wants support law enforcement as an "integral part of maintaining public safety."
"I don't think there's any confusion about that in Dallas," Johnson said. "We are supporting our police department and we're supporting the violence interruption program and other things that we're doing that are community-based and it's just it's working. And I think it's a great model for the nation."
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
As cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco have been grappling with the problem of repeat offenders, Johnson said he and the Dallas police chief are working with and pushing upon the district attorney’s office to emphasize the "importance of making sure that violent offenders especially are not put in a revolving door situation where they're back on our streets within days of being apprehended."
The mayor rejected the argument by some that police officers do not prevent crime, only respond to it.
"If you apprehend a criminal after one offense that would have committed five, you have actually prevented crime," Johnson said. He assured that the city and police will do their job in making arrests – but reducing crime must go hand in hand with the criminal justice system.