"HOW TO REDUCE CRIME IN DALLAS"
Preface - This article below was written in 2003. At that time Dallas ranked #1 in total crime per capita among cities with population over one million for six years in a row. This year Dallas is solidly on track to continue its #1 ranking for the eighth year in a row. It has been over two years since the city became aware of the crime crisis and nothing of any significance has been implemented by city government to address the issue and reduce crime. The following article: STEP #1: Increase Police Manpower and Pay outlines the beginning of a program to reduce crime in Dallas.
STEP #1: Increase Police Manpower and Pay
(Calie Stephens, 12/03/03) If you double the number of police in Dallas, you will not have as many police per citizen as New York City. NYC has 4.9 officers per 1000 citizens while Dallas has only 2.4 officers per 1000 citizens. Nationwide, among cities over one million in population, the rate is 3.5 officers per 1000 citizens. All these figures are from the 2001 FBI Uniform Crime Report*. That report listed Dallas with 2,892 officers. Currently Dallas employs about 3000 officers.
A manpower increase of 25% would add 750 officers for a total of 3750. The rate would then be about 3.0 officers per 1000 citizens, which is still below the national average of 3.5. This, in my opinion, would be a minimum goal taking into consideration that Dallas is #1 in total crimes per capita and is well on its way to holding that #1 ranking for the sixth year in a row. The increase in manpower needs to be accomplished in two years or less.
The hiring of additional police assumes that Dallas retains its existing officers. To accomplish that task will be no small feat. According to the Dallas Morning News, the city added 525 officers from 1999 thru 2002, but lost 433, for a net gain of only 92 officers. This year to date, Dallas hired 119 new recruits and has lost 128 for a net loss of 9 officers.
Bottom line, the retention problem is related to low police morale. Low pay relative to neighboring suburbs, incompetent police management, broken promises by city government and an indifferent public have all contributed to the low morale among the officers. Since the department is currently understaffed, it is imperative that the effectiveness of the existing force be maximized.
To accomplish this, city government must re-establish trust with rank and file police by immediately increasing their pay by the amount that it has promised to deliver over the next two years. That increase must be linked to increased productivity & accountability from the officers. If Dallas delivers, then we should expect the officers to deliver and put forth an extra effort to bring our crime problem under control.
If this requires a tax increase, so be it. The payback will exceed the cost. Ten years ago, New York City was experiencing the same deficit problems that now confront Dallas but managed to increase the number of police by 30%. In a few short years, NYC went from the major city with the highest crime rate to the major city with the lowest crime rate. In less than a decade the NYPD has become the most respected police force in the world. Their reduction of crime has led to an improvement in the quality-of-life in New York that has made the city the best-known example of the resurgence of urban America.
For Dallas to accomplish all the above will require strong leadership. Mayor Miller is a gifted and articulate person who is more than capable of providing that leadership. Unfortunately the authority of the mayor is limited in our city-manager form of government, but the mayor is the highest elected official in our city and has a powerful tool at her disposal. That tool is the bully pulpit. If she speaks out and uses that pulpit to the best of her ability, the city will solve this crime problem which will initiate a renaissance that will see Dallas become, like New York, a world-class city.
Calie Stephens - Editor
*sworn law enforcement personnel excluding civilians
CLICK HERE FOR STEP #2: Implement Broken Windows Policing