An analysis by The Dallas Morning News of crime last year in U.S. cities with at least 65,000 people found that Dallas has only slightly more violent crime than cities measured in the same way. Dallas ranks 58th among 436 cities analyzed. The News used statistical tools that correct for the effect of factors such as poverty, unemployment, low homeownership, family structure, and racial composition. While those factors don’t change the amount of crime in Dallas, they do put it in perspective. To see major crime reductions, cities also must improve the quality of life for their residents. Among Dallas’ biggest challenges are lowering poverty, improving education and expanding affordable-housing opportunities. “The key to reducing crime is reducing poverty,” said Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle.
It’s been widely reported that Dallas is No. 1 in all crime among cities with more than 1 million people. Dallas ranks second to Philadelphia in violent crime among those cities. Measure Dallas against cities with at least half a million people, and it drops to ninth. Kunkle believes having more officers will help in the department’s crime-fighting efforts, but he said he also recognizes that “it will never be enough. We will need to get help on the back side.” That help includes tougher prosecution and incarceration of repeat offenders, as well as effective parole and probation systems and job programs for offenders re-entering the community. “Police can do some things in response to crime increases,” said Richard Rosenfeld, University of Missouri criminologist. “But by and large, a police chief has about as much opportunity to do something effective about crime as a local hospital has to do something about the local cancer problem.”