The Fort Worth Star-Telegram put it this way: March madness, a month of mayhem and murder in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
In Dallas, police associations are asking Chief David Brown to resign as reports point to a huge spike in violent crime in the Big D. It’s an issue that’s gained so much attention it’s forced the Dallas Police Department to overhaul how it responds to some incidents. Even Gov. Greg Abbott is offering state troopers to help with the crime surge. The numbers are for real, it seems, but is the turmoil over crime authentic, or part of a larger political play unfolding?
Eric Aasen, managing editor at KERA in North Texas, says it depends on how the statistics are framed. Murders year-to-date (from January 1 until late March) are up 85 percent, 41 over 22 during the same period last year. Total violent crime is up 22 percent and aggravated assault is up 35 percent.
“Some of this is the result of drug deals gone bad,” he says. “Some of this is related to domestic violence assaults that have resulted in violence or death.”
Aasen says Chief Brown has said the weather may play a role in the increased 911 call volume this spring – it’s similar to call volume in the summer, when the number of calls often spikes.
“Violent spikes in the summer because it’s nicer outside,” he says. “They’re seeing similar trends early in the year, because we had such a warm weather streak in North Texas.”
Calls for Chief Brown to resign come from underlying, and ongoing, morale issues, Aasen says.
“The concerns that the police associations have aren’t just because of the crime wave,” he says. “The police department is understaffed and has been for some time.”
Aasen says starting police officer pay is $9,000 lower than starting pay for nearby Fort Worth rookie officers. Officers also complain about disciplinary matters. “Police officers feel that the leadership, they don’t have their backs,” he says, “that they’re not on the side of the officers.”
Some have called for Chief Brown’s resignation but other have taken a wait-and-see approach. Brown has the support of the mayor and the city manager, as well as current and former city council members, Aasen says.
What you’ll hear in this segment:
– How the offer of Texas Rangers’ help with day-to-day policing is unusual
– Why Chief Brown is flipping officers from daytime patrols to nighttime ones and suspending some long-term investigations in favor of short-term task forces
– The issues local police have with Chief Brown’s announcements, which could have contributed to their calls for his resignation