Dallas crime hits historic lows thanks to engaged communities and better technology
According to police chief David Brown, overall crime in Dallas is at its lowest rate since 1966, and there's been a significant decline in violent crime — including murder — in the past decade.
Brown presented a series of crime statistics to City Council members October 2. Data from 2003 to 2012 shows how far Dallas has come. In 2003, the first year that Dallas compared its crime rate to other large cities, Dallas ranked dead last at No. 10.
"It's hard to fathom that we were behind Detroit," David Brown said. "We were in a deep hole."
"It's hard to fathom that we were behind Detroit," Brown said. "We were in a deep hole."
Since 2003, Dallas has managed to climb out of that hole thanks to a larger police force, expanded community engagement and increased reliance on technology. Brown credits the turnaround to "data-driven decision making," which identifies hot spots for criminal activity.
Brown said crime statistics thus far into 2013 are basically flat and mirror the historically low 2012 numbers, when Dallas earned its highest safety ranking at No. 6. Dallas ranks ahead of Chicago, Houston, San Antonio and Detroit. Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles and New York are all considered safer big cities than Dallas based on crime rates.
"We're not just trying to arrest our way out of crime," Brown said. "We're trying to engage communities."
Brown praises citizen-run crime watches and the time he and his officers spend with youth through the police athletic league, the junior police academy and other programs. Brown even plays pickup basketball with kids to build relationships.
"I lost, by the way, to a 10-year-old. It's kind of embarrassing, but that's a big chunk of crime reduction, engaging the youth," Brown said.
Mayor Mike Rawlings thanked council members past and present as well as Brown and other officers, including former police chief David Kunkle, for their dedication to changing the crime landscape in Dallas.
"History rarely takes place in a day or in a year. It really does happen over a decade," Rawlings said. "It has been a team effort, and I think it is a day of celebration for the City of Dallas."