Dallas has launched several anticrime initiatives to combat a six-year streak as the city with the highest crime rate among the nation’s largest cities. The Dallas Morning News says experts conclude that “while Dallas has the tools, it may be missing the blueprint to put it all together.” As new Police Chief David Kunkle draft his own plans, the Morning News presented 16 criminologists, policing consultants, and former police chiefs with a list of anticrime initiatives as well as media accounts of the crime problem and the state of the Police Department. A typical conclusion: “I would doubt that mounting these or other crime-focused initiatives are the most important things to do right now,” said David Duffee of the State University of New York at Albany. The experts say Dallas should first establish a strategic plan, boost police morale and increase resources if it wants to see crime decline.
Experts said Dallas should restructure its community-policing model and hang its initiatives on a strategic plan, developed with the aid of the community. They described Dallas’ initiatives as a “broken windows” approach, targeting such quality-of-life problems as panhandling and prostitution on the belief that neglecting those smaller crimes will lead to such serious crimes as assault and robbery. Crime is expected to be down about 6.5 percent when official figures for the first half of the year are released soon. Larry Hoover of the Police Research Center at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, has said that the department had one of the best crime-mapping programs he’s seen but that commanders aren’t held accountable enough for forming solutions. Another criminologist, Gary LaFree of the University of Maryland, said, “I applaud the idea of experimenting with new methods. I just hope there’s a follow-up. It really depends on: ‘How motivated is the Dallas Police Department? How good is their morale? How much does the community support it? Do we have a plan?’ Because otherwise these individual programs are just buzz words.”