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A trip to Dallas sheds light on how communities can improve public safety

A trip to Dallas sheds light on how communities can improve public safety

Apr 14, 2023 by AFP

At the end of March, Americans for Prosperity-Texas joined forces with the Public Safety Solutions for America coalition and Right on Crime for a series of events centered on reducing violent crime and improving public safety.

The Dallas event marked the kickoff of the PSSA’s national cities tour. Since crime is a hyper-local issue, the PSSA is using this 10-stop tour to learn more about community-based solutions to reducing violent crime in different localities. The coalition will then share lessons learned on what works — and what does not — with other communities across the country.

While violent crime has been on the rise nationally, Dallas is one of the few major cities that has seen a decrease in violent crime over the past two years. Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia spoke about Dallas’s success at a public forum at the AFP-Texas office.

Here were some key takeaways:

  • “We need to use the data.” Chief Garcia stressed the importance of using data and evidence to inform policing tactics and determine how the police department can improve.
  • Hot-spot policing works. As part of the city’s crime reduction plan, the Dallas PD divided the city into 101,000 microgrids about the size of a football field. It found that just 50 of those grids are responsible for an outsized amount of the city’s violent crime. Focusing limited police resources on these 50 grids has proven to be an efficient method for reducing violent incidents citywide.
  • To reduce crime long-term, we must reinvest in people and places. According to Chief Garcia, police are “a fever reducer. We’re not the cure to an illness. We have to try to strengthen neighborhoods.” Improving community conditions, such as ensuring there is adequate street lighting, parks and green spaces, and garbage pickup, as well as working with local businesses to promote initiatives such as second chance hiring, are powerful tools for reducing crime. The police can’t do it alone — it takes a community effort.
  • We did not get into this mess overnight, and we won’t get out of it overnight. As long-term solutions take hold, we still need to have officers on the streets to prevent crime, which means we need to support and fund police departments.
  • Take a victim-centric approach. If people exiting the justice system “fail,” it means more victims have been created in a community. So, to decrease victims of violent crime, we must invest in ensuring people susceptible to a life of violent crime can succeed on a new path.
  • Partner with community leaders on focused deterrence and violence interrupter strategies. Focused deterrence targets individuals at high risk of becoming involved in crime and gives them a choice: either continue down the wrong path and face the consequences, or turn away from that path and receive support from community-based programs. Antong Lucky, a former Dallas gang leader who is now president of the community violence interrupter program Urban Specialists, was present at the panel and discussed his unique partnership with Chief Garcia in this space. Lucky also emphasized the importance of being able to have open and meaningful conversations with law enforcement to build trust in communities that may be distrustful of law enforcement.

The next stop will be in Columbia, South Carolina in May.

To learn more about the Dallas event, check out this Dallas Morning News article. To learn more about the Public Safety Solutions for America coalition, visit endviolentcrime.com

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