Homicides in Dallas increased by 20 percent last year, to an esimated 235, says the Dallas Morning News. In 2002, the city recorded one of its lowest counts in 30 years. In other categories, projections for burglaries and thefts show the highest levels since 1992, while reported rapes fell to their lowest level since 1976. Auto thefts are headed toward a five-year low.
Interim Police Chief Randy Hampton said the total number of serious property crimes increased 2.7 percent in 2003; violent crimes fell about 1.5 percent compared with 2002.
“Let’s give it a C+,” City Council member James Fantroy said of the numbers. “A C+ in my house is not good enough. And in the city of Dallas, a C+ is not good enough. …We’ve got to get the crime down.” Crime has been a big issue since midyear statistics showed the city on pace to have the top-ranking crime rate among cities with more than a million people for the sixth year in a row. The crime rate was a factor in the city manager’s firing of Police Chief Terrell Bolton.
Since the summer, Mayor Laura Miller and other city leaders have met weekly with police commanders to discuss crime trends and strategies.
Overall, “it looks like it’s pretty close to the trend across the country,” said criminologist Raymond Teske of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. “As far as I’m concerned, Dallas doesn’t look all that bad.”
Mayor Miller said the city will announce soon an anti-crime initiative aimed at apartment complexes. “Unlike the last initiative, where most of it was based on increased awareness of crime … this initiative has to be, in my opinion, more of a ‘You have to,’ not ‘We want you to,’ ” she said. The plan will include tougher licensing policies, crime watch meetings for apartment owners and managers, and a mandate requiring someone in charge to be on the site or on call. “All the voluntary feel-good programs in the world I don’t think are going to bring the crime stats down,” she said. “At a certain point, you have to legislate people’s behavior to make sure they’re more aware.”