DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The three co-chairs of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s newly announced Mayor’s Task Force On Safe Communities will meet for the first time Friday.
The meeting will not be open to the public, but they will be setting up an organization and developing a timeline and scope of their work.
One of the co-chairs, Pastor Michael Bowie of the St. Luke Community United Methodist Church says he’s looking forward to Friday’s meeting. “We’re going to see how we can galvanize all of our efforts to bring help, hope, and healing to the city of Dallas.”
Bowie says community members have already had discussions with him on the city’s violent crime problem. “How do we address gang violence, and how do we talk about relationships for people in the community? They need jobs. Bottom line, they need hope.”
The task force is forming as the number of homicides in Dallas has increased nearly 25% so far this year from the same time period last year.
Among the murders that has shaken this city, the shooting death of Brandoniya Bennett, who was 9 years old.
Another task force co-chair, Rene Martinez, who led parent academies at Dallas ISD and organized a community effort to end a deadly cheese heroin epidemic in the district years ago, says he discussed his new role on Facebook Tuesday morning.
“I probably had over 100 responses within two hours. Ninety-nine-point nine percent of it was positive. How can I help?”
Following the deadly El Paso shooting rampage, he says the task force will have to reach out to the Latino community, because many are too afraid to come forward. “A lot of fear, a lack of knowledge of what’s going on, an inability to report anything to government entities.”
Martinez said community involvement is key.
“We’re going to have to identify what resources are needed in some of the areas where we’re facing challenges. There maybe a void of community resources for certain communities.”
Task Force Co-Chair Alan Cohen, CEO of the Child Poverty Action Lab, says they’re focused on data-based solutions.
“We should use data that brings us toward solutions what is working – not only in pockets here in Dallas and other parts of the area, but all around the country. We should look at the very best practices and bring those to bear for our community. I think what we don’t want to do is end up in a situation where we’re looking at band-aid solutions. We really want to get to the root issues that are underlying the problems that are facing the city.”
Mayor Johnson still has to select other participants in the task force.
He wants the Task Force to present solutions outlined by the end of the year.
Pastor Bowie says, “I believe if we all come together and have one common goal and that’s to bring safety to the city of Dallas, I believe it will come to pass.”