Violent crime in Dallas has become so severe that the governor is again sending state troopers to help the police department, an arrangement that quickly went sour a year ago. But this time, the strategy is different, and the loudest critic from the previous intervention is now in support of the measure. Instead of flooding the zone in South Dallas with fishing expeditions masked as traffic stops, the state police will be non-uniform and assisting in investigations to free up Dallas cops to patrol.
“This is definitely a resource strategy,” said Councilman Adam Bazaldua, who represents South Dallas and in 2019 led a coalition that called for the troopers to leave town. “I ultimately am happy that they have seem to have learned from past mistakes and made adjustments accordingly.”
The state says it is sending state troopers to “support DPS gang and drug investigative operations.” Partners include special agents, a team of intelligence analysts, and Texas Rangers investigators who will provide help with murder cases. The department also has access to state-owned patrol planes for air support and surveillance. Bazaldua says he’s been assured the public won’t notice them; troopers are not planned to park and wait for minor traffic violations in search of drugs and guns. Last year, troopers made 12,500 traffic stops and 1,000 arrests over 12 weeks. Last year, state troopers opened fire on a resident, killing him. An autopsy found he had been shot 16 times. Despite a nearly 10 percent year over year decline in violent crime over that period, the neighborhood still felt unfairly targeted.
“I am hopeful this is a better situation for us because I believe this is a better use of added resources and will cut away from the community feeling that over-policing and over-targeting that was happening,” Bazaldua said.
In its press release, the state says its resources will be used “to reduce violent crime” while the police department’s release notes an “uptick in violence surrounding entertainers that cross multi-jurisdictional boundaries.” Rapper Mo3, né Melvin Noble, was chased down Interstate 35 near the Dallas Zoo before being shot and killed. A day later, Louisiana rapper and Mo3 collaborator Boosie Badazz was shot in the leg in southern Dallas. A dentist-rapper was also shot and robbed at his Uptown business this month. The FBI is assisting in these cases, as well.
Dallas is in a very public tough spot. Violent crime is surging. Homicides are up 23 percent year over year. The 220 slayings this year has surpassed total murders in 2019, when Dallas topped 200 for the first time in more than a decade. Meanwhile, non-family violence aggravated assaults are up 27 percent, according to the mayor. The police department has said most of these are happening between people who know each other, making it difficult for officers to intervene beforehand. Bazaldua says numbers he has been provided show that about 70 percent of murders in 2020 are between acquaintances.
“It has been said by even the leadership in DPD that it would not be prevented, that there’s nothing that they could be doing to prevent something that occurs in one’s home or in private businesses and things of that nature,” he said. “I do feel that there is a huge amount of contributing factors of this pandemic and the array of things that have come along with it.”
Bazaldua, for his part, is now welcoming the help.