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To Reduce Crime, Dallas Task Force Targets Abandoned Buildings, School Partnerships

Courtesy Justin Terveen

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson released the Task Force on Safe Communities report Thursday. The report recommends ways to reduce violent crime in the city.

"The mayor's Task Force on Safe Communities report challenges us to do more to address the conditions that foster violent crime and to look at the issue holistically,” Johnson said in a statement. “By combining these recommendations with an ambitious, carefully crafted law enforcement crime plan, I believe we can, within the next five years, reach the record lows for violent crime we saw in 2013 and 2014."

The report calls for improvements like fixing up blighted buildings and abandoned lots, and adding outdoor lighting to high-crime areas. The task force also recommends the city partner with schools to help students learn how to better handle their emotions and "pause before they act."

The last recommendation says Dallas should also get help from residents living in high-crime neighborhoods. These residents would be trained to help keep conflicts from turning violent.

The task force, made up of residents and community leaders from across the city, was formed in August 2019. 

Their report comes on the heels of the Dallas Police Department's Violent Crime Reduction Plan, released last week. The police plan calls for reductions of violent crime and robberies by 10% in certain parts of the city and an overall violent crime reduction rate of 5% — but the mayor said it was not ambitious enough.

Dallas City Council's public safety committee will take up the police department's plan Jan. 13

All of this follows a violent 2019 with more than 200 homicides – 30% more than the previous year and the highest number in Dallas in more than a decade.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.
Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.