DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced his first mayoral task force Monday afternoon in an attempt to reduce violent crime in the city.
The task force is his first since he took office in June and is expected to help solve issues related to the violent and deadly year the city has experienced so far.
The Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities will gather community input and build consensus around data-driven solutions that can stop and prevent violent crime in Dallas without exclusive reliance on law enforcement action.
“I believe in the Dallas Police Department,” Mayor Johnson said in his remarks at a press conference Monday. “And I believe that the Dallas Police Department’s focus on guns, gangs, and drugs is both smart and necessary to help reduce violent crime in our city.
The task force’s goal is to develop recommendations and report back to the mayor before the end of the year.
“We can’t ask or expect law enforcement to do it all. To paraphrase one of our former police chiefs, we already ask cops to do too much. Police have to be social workers. They have to deal with mental health and drug addiction and cycles of abuse. And we’ve asked law enforcement to do all of these things in an environment where illegal guns are far too easy for criminals to obtain.”
To lead the task force, the mayor selected three co-chairs: Pastor Michael Bowie, senior pastor at St. Luke Community United Methodist Church; Rene Martinez, a longtime educator and community activist; and Alan Cohen, president & CEO of the Child Poverty Action Lab. The mayor will announce the task force’s other members soon.
“I’m grateful to all three of these dedicated community leaders for their service,” Mayor Johnson said.
The co-chairs have released the following statements about Mayor Johnson tapping them to lead the task force:
“Ending this scourge of violence will start with taking steps in our own communities and being willing to carry each other’s burdens. The work ahead will be challenging, but I am confident the collective wisdom and spirit of this task force will serve this city well.” – Pastor Michael Bowie
“I have seen over many years the ups and downs of crime in Dallas over many decades. I have always tried to be part of the solution. In my lifetime of community public service and leadership, I have learned how much we can accomplish when we unite around a cause. So I’m honored that the mayor has asked me to once again serve my community by helping make Dallas a safer place to live in.” – Rene Martinez
“I am honored that Mayor Johnson has asked me to co-chair this Task Force. To achieve lasting impact on issues as complex as crime and public safety, I believe strongly in taking an inclusive approach that combines the use of data-driven insights with the lived-experience of community members. So I look forward to hearing from citizens and stakeholders seeking actionable solutions to improve safety for all Dallas residents.” – Alan Cohen
It’s been a deadly year in Dallas as police officials have asked for the public’s help and patience when it comes to solving murders and issues of crime.
According to police, there have been 132 homicides in Dallas this year, which is 26 more than this time in 2018.
Last week, there were seven murders in the city, including the shooting death of 9-year-old Brandoniya Bennett. She was killed after the accused gunman, 19-year-old Tyrese Simmons, fired into her apartment thinking it someone else’s.
In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had directed Texas Department of Public Safety troopers to Dallas to help combat violent crime, which concerned residents and city leaders. Earlier this month, Johnson publicly defended those patrols in areas of South Dallas.
“They’re not picking areas of our city arbitrarily to police more heavily. I think they’re trying to address where the data points then in terms of criminal activity. I think the plan is to actually target the resources in the higher crime areas where there’s data that shows there’s more violent crime occurring so we can try to get the violent crime to simmer down,” Johnson said about the Texas DPS patrols.
Dale Petroskey, President and CEO, Dallas Regional Chamber, released the following statement on the task force:
We support Mayor Johnson’s leadership in coming up with this common-sense, multi-pronged approach to find the reasons behind the recent uptick in crime in Dallas.
The co-chairs he has chosen are uniquely suited to lead this effort. Together, they have the experience and skills necessary to combine on-the-ground knowledge of the community with an understanding of how to gather facts and interpret the data they collect. This approach should lead to meaningful recommendations to the city’s policymakers.
We stand ready to support this effort in any way we can.