Mayor Eric Johnson releases Task Force on Safe Communities report

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Office of the Mayor, Eric Johnson

Jan. 9, 2020

Tristan Hallman
Chief of Policy and Communications | 469.785.1421

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson releases Task Force on Safe Communities report

DALLAS — Mayor Eric Johnson on Thursday officially released the Task Force on Safe Communities’ report.

The full report is available here.

“The Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities’ report challenges us to do more to address the conditions that foster violent crime and to look at the issue holistically,” Mayor Johnson said. “By combining these recommendations with an ambitious, carefully crafted law enforcement crime plan, I believe we can, within the next five years, reach the record lows for violent crime we saw in 2013 and 2014 in this city, and that must be our goal.”

The report provides four specific data-based recommendations to reduce violent crime using strategies outside of the purview of law enforcement.

  • Remediate blighted buildings and abandoned lots in high-violence locations.
  • Add outdoor lighting in locations where nighttime violence has been most severe.
  • Utilize schools to deliver group support that teaches kids to pause before they act.
  • Hire and train credible messengers from within high-violence neighborhoods as “violence interrupters” to keep resolvable conflicts from escalating into gun violence.

The recommendations are supported by extensive research of best practices used across the country. Eight distinguished criminologists have endorsed the report. Read the letter here.

Included in the report are extrapolated costs and the potential benefits of the programs based on the results in other cities.

In addition, the report also makes several other suggestions, beyond the four core recommendations, to address the underlying causes of violent crime.

“I am proud of the Task Force’s work,” said Mayor Johnson. “The thought and effort they put into producing this report is evident and commendable. I want to especially thank my co-chairs, Alan Cohen, Rene Martinez, and Pastor Michael Bowie, for their service.”

Mayor Johnson appointed the three Task Force co-chairs on Aug. 19 and named the remaining 13 members of the volunteer group on Aug. 29.

The Task Force members spent the months since then conducting tours of high-crime areas, discussing ideas, learning about programs in other cities, and talking about strategies with stakeholders, nonprofits, community leaders, and policy experts.

The mayor asked the Task Force to submit the report before the end of the year, and the co-chairs submitted it to the mayor’s office on Dec. 31, 2019.

Mayor Johnson and the three co-chairs will discuss the report at a news conference at 1 p.m. at City Hall.

Below are quotes from the three co-chairs:

“The Task Force met with committed community leaders, visited high-crime areas, and discovered best practices from various cities that have experienced a reduction in violent crimes. We believe that this holistic and data-driven approach will give the City of Dallas and its communities the capacity to reduce violent crimes.” - Rev. Michael Bowie, Senior Pastor of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church.

“Saying that we cannot only arrest our way out of gun violence has to be more than a platitude. The recommendations of the Task Force are tangible and ready-made for action,” Cohen said. “It will take a sustained commitment from our leaders and policymakers, but there is no reason why strategies working in other cities can’t also make Dallas a safer place to live.” - Alan Cohen, CEO of Child Poverty Action Lab.

“Our recommendations reflect a cross section of our communities. We spent significant time speaking to stakeholders, visiting critical neighborhoods with high crime rates, and reviewing the best practices from numerous cities compatible to Dallas. All of this work produced a report that will allow the City, our schools, and our communities to work in conjunction with police strategies to reduce violent crime in our city.” - Rene Martinez, educator and longtime community leader