After Dallas saw an alarming 40 homicides in the month of May, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would send Department of Public Safety, or DPS, troopers the the city to help local law enforcement. However, the details of their presence and the results of their efforts are unclear to the public. Most of the troopers were sent to predominantly African American South Dallas, where residents now say they are being unfairly targeted by this new wave of law enforcement.
Dallas Morning News reporter Cassandra Jaramillo says the Dallas Police Department’s being seriously understaffed resulted in Police Chief Renee Hall accepting DPS assistance. However, little insight on the strategy was given to the public.
“Now they made this announcement in a press conference with much fanfare but not a whole lot of details. So still to this day we don’t know where – what the plan was, where to deploy the troopers or how many exactly were coming,” Jaramillo says. “So, for reasons that we don’t entirely know, those details have remained to not be shared with the public.”
Jaramillo says the DPS deployment may be falling short in terms of dealing with violent crime. Anecdotes from South Dallas residents indicate the troopers are focusing on minor offenses such as blown brake lights, cars without license plates and marijuana possession. Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said the marijuana possession cases would be dropped per policy announced earlier this year, Jaramillo says.
“The idea was to lower violent crime and we understand where it would be a shock from residents to see such a high volume of law enforcement presence,” Jaramillo says. “Between residents complaining about and now the DA getting involved, it is starting to raise concerns about what is the effectiveness of this task force in reducing the violent crime.”
More than 70 people, including DPS Regional Director Jeff Williams, were present at a community meeting last Tuesday. Residents expressed their concerns and Williams said that the troopers have not been acting excessively. Jaramillo says DPS has declined interview requests.
“As far as really internalizing what was said and reacting to a new plan perhaps that was suggested by community members, we did not hear that from the regional director,” Jaramillo says.
The Dallas Police Department issued a statement saying crime has been reduced. But little concrete data has been released to the public, Jaramillo says.
“So there’s just a lot of questions about the data and what exactly these citations are being issued for,” Jaramillo says. “The Texas Department of Public Safety is withholding arrest data that they say if they release the information could potentially put personnel staff in danger.”
DPS stated that a 29% reduction in violent crime has occurred, but it is unclear what is driving the number down because the figure covers several different types of crime, Jaramillo says.
“Without unfiltered data being provided to the public, its really hard to best inform people on what’s the success, the metric of success of this task force,” Jaramillo says.
Written by Geronimo Perez.