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How Dallas tackled violent crime

(Siede Preis/Getty)
(Siede Preis/Getty)

In Dallas, Texas, overall violent crime has dropped by 30% from a year ago.

It’s not the first year the numbers have gone down.

Its mayor and police chief credit the reduction to “hot spot policing.”

“A lot of cities, they just dump a bunch of money at something, and they go on to the next shiny object. But Dallas has seemed a real concerted effort in putting all this together,” Alexis Piqeuro says.

What are the lessons to learn from Dallas’s anti-crime efforts?

Today, On Point: Dallas’s fight against violent crime.


Alexis Piquero, professor of criminology at the University of Miami. Former director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Also Featured

Antong Lucky, president and CEO of Urban Specialists.

Patricia Allen, vice president of No More Violence.


Part I

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI: This is On Point. I’m Meghna Chakrabarti.

Antong Lucky is a Texan. Born and raised in Mill City, a neighborhood in the southern part of Dallas.

ANTONG LUCKY: It was wreaking with drugs, gangs, all kind of adherence for kids who grew up in a neighborhood to be involved in situations like that, smart kids didn’t have an outlet in those kinds of neighborhoods. So for me, you know, coming outside, consisted of seeing, you know, drug dealers, potential gang members, you know, that kind of stuff that was kind of like the neighborhood norm.

CHAKRABARTI: Antong grew up in the 1980s. He was a straight-As, honor roll student. And his mom watched over him to keep him out of trouble.

LUCKY: My mother was a single parent. She worked very hard. She always instilled in me and my siblings, this idea of work ethic, this idea of doing right, this idea of not being a participant in the stuff that we see once we went outside, but I think the neighborhood and environmental influences was just so strong that it suffocated that message once you left out the door.

CHAKRABARTI: Even though he tried to avoid the violence, the violence often found him.

LUCKY: Growing up, I had numerous situations where friends and loved ones were tragically affected by violence. I myself was shot one time in the leg, from a drive by. So I know the violence all too well. I knew it up close and personal.

CHAKRABARTI: Very personal.

LUVKY: I co-founded a gang with some friends of mine, in my mind to protect my neighborhood who didn’t have a gang identity. And we would, as kids, we would fight kids in other neighborhoods, other schools that we went to, who had already identified with gangs.

CHAKRABARTI: His grades started slipping. He was getting in frequent fights in the neighborhood. By the time he turned 19, Antong was facing criminal charges.

LUCKY: I’ll never forget, when I did get in trouble and was standing in front of a judge and that judge told me that I was a minister of society, that I deserve to be in prison, I remember in my head vividly. Having a discussion that said, Judge, you don’t understand, like, I’m from East Dallas, that neighborhood is rough, that you have to be tough. You have to be like this in order to survive, right? Like, this is not really who I am. I’m really a good kid, but I had to put on this armor to protect myself, but that’s not really who I am.

CHAKRABARTI: Antong was charged with possession of a control substance with the attempt to deliver. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

He says that moment on May 21, 1997 changed his life … in large part because just two weeks before his sentence, Antong’s daughter was born.

LUCKY: If I ever had kids, I didn’t want to be to my daughter what my father was to me. And that was absent, you know, because I didn’t care why he went to prison, what he did to go to prison. I just knew he wasn’t present in my life.

CHAKRABARTI: Antong still lives in Dallas. He’s turned his life around. And so has Dallas, when it comes to the city’s crime rate. Since the late 1990s, Dallas’s per capita crime rate was on a downward trend through 2014, according to FBI data.

Things were looking good … until 2015, when crime rates began rising again. Things got bad enough that city leaders announced a major initiative in 2021 – the Violence Crime Reduction Plan. Police chief Eddie Garcia.

EDDIE GARCIA: Our ultimate goal is the reduction of crime with an increase in community trust. Both are possible and both are needed. We will strive for both and now these concepts are not mutually exclusive.

CHAKRABARTI: Since then, Dallas has seen the kind of success that’s not often in the doom loop that draws headlines. Violent crime is way down in Dallas, a 24 percent drop in the past three years. Here’s Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson speaking to CBS News last December.

ERIC JOHNSON: This will be a third consecutive year of overall violent crime falling in the city of Dallas, which is incredible. It’s a very, very positive story, coming out of Dallas yet again.

CHAKRABARTI: And according to a Gallup poll last summer, Americans now see Dallas as the safest large city in the U.S.

The key — strategy known as “hot spot policing,” where law enforcement focuses on specific high crime neighborhoods as a prevention mechanism. It’s a technique often condemned by critics of American policing.

But three years since its implementation, the people of Dallas have largely supported this decision … people like Antong Lucky, who is now the president of Urban Specialist, a Dallas-based nonprofit seeking to disrupt trends of violence and poverty in urban communities.

LUCKY: Most people who exist and who reside in these type of neighborhoods, their perception of police is probably different than the talking heads that you see on the nightly views, right? Because most people that we know, that we deal with, that we work with every day are wanting the presence of police. They do want police because they understand that’s the only deterrent to violent crime that they see.

ChaKRABARTI: It’s a sentiment that Dallas’s local politicians share. Like City Councilman Tennell Atkins: “That’s what the residents are saying. ‘Hey, we don’t see the presence,’” He told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth in January. “We’re shorthanded, we know we’re shorthanded. But we need more presence in order to make sure we’ve got a safe neighborhood.”

So today, we’ll take a deeper look at what’s happening in Dallas, Texas, the so-called “hot spot policing” and what Dallas’s story can tell the rest of the country.

Joining us now is Alexis Piquero. He’s a professor of criminology at the University of Miami. He was based in Dallas until 2020 and helped draft Dallas’s plan. Welcome back to On Point.

ALEXIS PIQUERO: Hi Meghna, good to be here.

CHAKRABARTI: So take us back first of all to 2018, 2019. What was the crime rate and the kinds of crime like in Dallas?

PIQUERO: It was pretty serious, and homicides were starting to increase and not by just single numbers.

And it was really interesting, because at the time, the mayor, Eric Johnson was very attuned to this and it was really forward looking of him and what he did was he put together a task force that was designed to identify evidence based non-policing strategies, and that was a separate component from what the police department was going to do.

And they were focusing on outlining their own particular crime prevention strategy, because we know, Meghna, really is that when you are attacking crime and violence, it’s not just the police, it’s the police in concert with non-policing alternatives. One is a short term, right now thing and other parts are investments in the future.

And so our task force identified a series of different strategies that the mayor could help direct resources toward, that included cleaning and greening, teaching kids’ self-control, interrupters and those kinds of things, while the police department was crafting out their particular violent crime prevention strategy.

So that coordinated, two-pronged approach is very successful.

CHAKRABARTI: Alex, with permission, I’d love to actually slow this conversation down a little bit because we’ve got time to really dive into the details. We’ll talk about the work that you were a part of in just a second. But, sometimes on the radio and the media, we talk about crime generically.

Can you tell me a little bit more, in more detail, when we’re talking about violent crime in Dallas in that pre-2020 period. You said it was pretty serious and the crime rates were going up. Was it all kinds of violent crime and was it throughout the city, or were there particular neighborhoods where it was especially bad?

PIQUERO: That’s a great question. So it was primarily homicides and robberies. And when the public thinks about violent crime, that’s what they’re thinking about. They’re not necessarily thinking about aggravated assaults in bars. And what we do know, yes, Meghna, that the crime, especially violent crime, is very patterned.

And that’s why when police departments develop strategies targeting those areas, that’s what they need to do, because they know it’s not randomly distributed throughout the city.

CHAKRABARTI: And so what were you doing in Dallas at the time? Remind me, what was your position there?

PIQUERO: I was a faculty member at the University of Texas at Dallas.

CHAKRABARTI: Got it. Okay. So did the mayor then just come to you, or his office reach out to you and said, Hey, we have this idea. First of all, how did that go down?

PIQUERO: So what happened initially was that the mayor was going to put together a panel. I think it’s 15 to 18 people from all over the city and these included, I was the only academic on it.

It was other people in the policy space, other people, actually in real estate, in the school board. The idea was to get a good cross section of people. People in the city who had knowledge about crime and prevention issues, who had a lot of experience in dealing with those things. And so I was reached out by the mayor’s office.

CHAKRABARTI: That’s a pretty big board. 15 to 18.

PIQUERO: Yeah, it’s always a problem when you have so many people. But what I noticed in that board is that there wasn’t one dominant voice. It was literally people who were laser focused on public safety. And when people can put aside their egos and this, that and the other, and focus on something everybody cares about.

The task at hand was very focused and we did really good work, I think.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. The reason why I’m asking about this behind-the-scenes stuff is because how a process unfolds that leads to a success is just as important as understanding the success itself, so can you tell me a little bit more about how the conversations went?

Was there a goal in mind at the beginning? Like we’re going to do hotspot police and we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that. Or how did it go?

PIQUERO: So there were two prongs, right? Because the police department was focused on their efforts and I was helping consult them on their strategies, trying to identify what are the evidence-based strategies and then how do you do that?

So independent of that, our task force again was focused on non-policing strategies. And so we were focused on not just producing one of those blue-ribbon reports. It’s going to sit on the shelf. We were focused on putting together a document that was very digestible, and it was very informed on what prior cities did and also identified cost benefit analyses.

And so it was a really good document that other cities could then use to replicate in their cities.

CHAKRABARTI: Were there disagreements? Did politics play out here?

PIQUERO: In my recollection, actually not. There were things about should we do this? And, how many are we going to identify?

5, 10, 20? And Alan Cohen and I, who worked really closely together on this project, he runs the Child Poverty Action Lab. Alan and I were focused on what are the strategies that we know work very well and they’re translatable across places. And that everybody can say, without a political affiliation, no, that’s too far left or too far right.

So these things cut across the political spectrum, the things that we identified.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. So we’re going to talk in much more detail about those things in just a moment. So today we’re trying to learn from Dallas’s success in pushing down its overall violent crime rate. We’ll also talk about where Dallas still needs to do some work, but that’s all when we come back.

Part II

CHAKRABARTI: Let’s talk for several minutes about the law enforcement side of things, and then we’ll see how that meshes with the non-law enforcement initiatives that the city started. You said, first of all, that law enforcement was looking at evidence-based methodologies to reduce crime and we’ve talked a little bit about what that evidence based is and what direction it led them in

PIQUERO: Yeah, so the way we look at evidence based is when you implement a particular policing strategy, what you’re focused on is not just the delivery of how the police do that job, but also what its effects are in terms of reductions in crime, but also, Meghna, it’s also very important, is you also want to focus on displacement.

So just because you deal with crime and lower it in a particular neighborhood or a block or a series of blocks, you want to ensure that it doesn’t travel somewhere else. And so the idea, and when you think about hotspots, that’s really what you’re doing. And when you look at a city, you’re identifying those places in the city where there’s a significant concentration of crime.

And then you try to understand what’s going on that’s producing that crime.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay, so in the case of Dallas, I’m seeing here that some research showed that 10% of violent street crime in particular at that time was occurring in about 0.05% of the city. So it was very concentrated. How did police actually then decide specifically where, within that 0.05%, they were going to increase law enforcement presence?

PIQUERO: Yeah, it’s a great question. So what the city does is it basically creates micro grids. And so you’re dividing the city into smaller and smaller parcels or even blocks. And you’re going right to where those hot spots are. And so a hot spot necessarily isn’t 5 blocks long.

It literally could be half a block or 1 particular business or 1 particular park. And so you’re literally narrowing, narrow focus on exactly the locations. And then you have to understand what is it about that location?

CHAKRABARTI: The locations I’m seeing here are, like you said, they’re as narrow as they could be, like 330 square feet, according to some reporting I’m seeing.

PIQUERO: That’s right. And so that’s smart policing. You don’t want to blanket the city where the city doesn’t have any significant problems. So you’re going to devote those resources right there to those areas.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. And then the understanding of why those areas are particular hotspots. What did law enforcement learn?

PIQUERO: Yeah, that’s correct. So sometimes it’s an apartment complex that generates a lot of calls. And so there could be something in that complex, whether there’s a drug distribution network or something of that nature. Other times it could be a business that might have shady practices associated with it.

Other times it could be a park where people congregate late at night, doesn’t have a lot of lighting. And so that’s why that fine grain analysis of looking at what the problematic people places are and why there are people there who are congregating there. That’s the intelligence that goes on in the background.

Okay. And so what did the increased presence then in those like micro hotspots actually look like? Was it more uniformed officers on patrol? What was it?

PIQUERO: So it’s a combination of both those things. It’s uniforms on patrol, but also there’s a non uniform patrol that’s doing a lot of work in the background, because they have to gather a lot of intelligence.

Who are the people who are running the drugs? Why are there guns being sold here? Those are the kinds of things. So sometimes you see police presence and other times you don’t, like air marshals on airplanes.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. And then you said a minute ago, something really important. That that map, that law enforcement generated was not static.

PIQUERO: That’s correct. It could change weekly. And every morning, police departments in the afternoons when they do their roll calls, they’re going to look at where the crime was in the last 24 hours and what kinds of crimes are peaking in different parts of the city. So there’s constant intelligence that police are gathering and that’s communicated right to the officers on the street level.

CHAKRABARTI: Wow. Okay. So did this require an increase in the police department’s budget, an increase in the number of officers? Was there concern, as you said a little bit earlier, that the ability to deploy officers in other parts of the city was going to go down?

PIQUERO: So that’s a great question, right?

Chief Garcia and every chief in the United States will say, I need more officers. I need more resources. So that’s a simple answer. But it’s about being smart about how you allocate. And so, you know, you can take officers off of a particular area of detail and put them into this particular targeted area and then move them back around.

And one of the things that we know in criminology is that when police go to an area, it’s not necessarily that they’re there for an hour. The idea is getting them in there and then out of there. And you’re constantly getting would be offenders thinking about where are the police going to be next.

So you want to keep this element of surprise always in these areas. So you’re constantly shifting around. And obviously, the police department isn’t going to publish in Dallas Morning News how they allocate their officers on the street. But I can tell you that’s what happens behind the scenes.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay, interesting. And this is still going on in Dallas, as far as I understand.

PIQUERO: Absolutely. Okay. So when you explain it, clearly that way, it actually seems like a very straightforward way of providing law enforcement support in the places in a city that need it. Is this kind, like right now, is this kind of hot spot policing being practiced in other city police departments that you know of?

PIQUERO: Yeah, absolutely. It was first identified in the academic literature by a professor who I learned from in graduate school, named Larry Sherman. And he actually did this analysis in Minneapolis where he found that basically a small proportion of the calls, of the addresses in a city were responsible for over 50% of the calls.

And so that’s the general knowledge. Okay, if I can find those 5% of the addresses, and I can then maybe solve a lot of those calls for service. And so every major police department engages in some form of hotspot style policing, without a doubt.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. So the timing of this is particularly interesting to me, Professor Piquero, because, you were describing what the crime rate was like in 2018, 2019, actually following Mayor Eric Johnson’s win of the mayor’s office, the Dallas Violent Crime Reduction Plan is put together.

All of this comes just as the pandemic does, as well, and in cities across the country, for a whole mix of reasons, we saw a big spike in crime. What happened in Dallas? So Dallas, like every other major city, starting into kind of the beginning of February, March period of 2020, into the spring and after the killing of George Floyd and the social unrest that occurred after that.

And then into the fall of 2020 and then into 2021, just about every major U.S. city saw an increase, primarily in homicides and aggravated assaults. And a lot of that carried into 2022. But then some cities, including Dallas, started to go back down. Dallas saw, has been seeing a sizable drop in crime, a little bit higher than some other cities.

And so a lot of the things that Dallas had to put on its shelf, literally, when the whole world stopped. They couldn’t do the kinds of proactive policing. Because A) officers were being taken out of commission because of COVID, some several died and then they experienced staffing levels.

So the police department took a little bit of a hit. And then all of those non-policing strategies like, education, kids were going to school. They weren’t working, their social workers. There was no prevention and intervention programs, because people couldn’t meet. So all of the things basically that we know work to help alleviate crime or reduce its incidents, basically turned off.

And then as a result of the pandemic waning and people getting better, those things then turn back on and then Dallas really doubled down on those strategies. Here is Police Chief Eddie Garcia on CBS News last December talking about the successes of the Violent Crime Reduction Plan.

GARCIA: Total violent crime in this city is below where we were pre-pandemic. Robberies, aggravated assaults. Murder still remains a little higher than it was pre-pandemic, but that is a phenomenon that’s occurring in a lot of places, but that is what our goal is.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay, so both you and he just mentioned this, that the homicide rate is still higher than anyone wants it to be, so here’s a little bit more of what Chief Garcia told CBS News.

GARCIA: So the murder phenomenon that occurs, I will, I’ll say this, what would concern me is if violent crime incidents were going up, which they’re not, we’ve had the lowest amount of violent crime incidents that we’ve had in five years, what would concern me would be if gun crime was going up. Right now, we have a 23% reduction in overall gun crimes that pertains to murder, robbery and aggravated assault.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay Professor Piquero, in all fairness, and actually speaking in terms of, like, how would you measure what true long-term success here is, when we’re thinking about the reduction of violent crime? Because if homicides are still troublingly high, what is victory here. Or what is success?

PIQUERO: I’m never one to declare victory and success until nobody’s dead. Just because we have fewer homicides in any big city, United States, those are still people’s lives. They have families, they have friends, they have relatives. And so I think you keep the foot to the floor until you get things down as much as you can get them down.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay, so but what does that mean, though? Because I’m trying to get a handle on is this, just a forever change in policing and change in city approaches that’s going to be needed. Or can we say that once a pattern is established, that at least violent crime is no longer a top line problem in a city.

PIQUERO: I’d love for us to see the violent crime rate of other cities around the world, like London and Sydney, Australia. And we’re nowhere near that. We’re always much higher. And so I think for cities, and this includes mayors and police departments and everybody who has a horse in the race, I would love to see sustained long term commitment.

And that has to come directly from the mayors and the county commissions and the city commissions where they’re focused on. We’re going to continue to do this and we’re not going to stop, period. We’re just not going to stop.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. In a minute or two, Professor Piquero, I want to talk to you, with you about the non-law enforcement side of the initiative. Because that’s very important here, but one more point about when this all took place, because of course, especially in 2020, summer of 2020 and thereafter, policing in America came under renewed and intense scrutiny and criticism.

Did that sort of national conversation, that national outcry, have an effect on what was happening in Dallas, amongst the people who were coming up with the Violent Crime Reduction Plan, amongst communities’ law enforcement? You tell me.

PIQUERO: I work with police chiefs. My whole career and many different cities, and by and large, I can tell you that the men and women who patrol the streets of America are hugely committed human beings.

They care about their community. They don’t do it for the money. They do it because they care about the people in those places. And I think what the killing of George Floyd did for policing internally and then externally is it forced them to think about, look, it’s not just what we do.

It’s how we do it. And that I think has shown a huge commitment by police chiefs all over the country. When Eddie Garcia was the chief, of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, he stood up to the police there and talked about the importance of data and the importance of trust and the importance of legitimacy.

And he means it. And so do many other police chiefs around this country. And I think that’s what’s now come out of that process, is a relooking and a retraining and a recommitment toward building that trust and legitimacy. But Meghna, remember, it goes both ways. The police need the community to do crime prevention, just as much as the community needs the police.

PIQUERO: I wonder what the response was, as you can recall, from communities. Particularly talking about communities where many of Dallas’s Black residents live, as they saw what was unfolding, with the killing of George Floyd, and at the same time having this initiative to reduce violent crime in Dallas.

Was there any pushback from the communities, or the opposite? I think a lot of it was the opposite. And I’ve seen that here in Miami, and lots of other cities, is that people want the police in their neighborhoods, especially the highest crime neighborhoods. People want help, and they look to the police to do that.

And again, the important part here is the police need to do their job in a fair and equitable way. And by and large, they almost all the time do. But the people in those communities, they don’t want the violence. They don’t want the guns. They don’t want the drugs. They want safe places where they can go out and walk around at seven or eight o’clock at night.

CHAKRABARTI: It’s interesting Professor Piquero, I wanted to ask you that on the show today because as we were doing our background and reaching out to members of Dallas’s communities that went through or are going through this hotspot policing. We were trying to get a fair picture as to what the response was from folks.

And we didn’t find anyone who said, this is terrible. We don’t want law enforcement in the places where there’s high crime. We just didn’t. We were unable to find that voice. They may be there, but it was tough for us to find. Now, I focused on policing because it’s a really interesting part here, but it doesn’t stand alone, right?

You had said in the beginning there were important non law enforcement initiatives that went along with this. Talk to me about a couple of them in detail. What would you say were the most, the key ones?

PIQUERO: Yeah, I think there are three. And the way I think about this, Meghna, I think about, look, there’s a 15-year-old kid right now who is one foot away from picking up a gun and solving a beef that occurred on social media.

There’s a 10-year-old kid right now who in five years might pick up a gun. And then there’s a three-year-old kid right now who in 12 years will. So your crime prevention strategy is focused on each of those groups. So the intervention strategies are the 15-year-old kid right now. That’s what the police are attacking right now.

And that’s also a non-policing strategy called community violence interrupters, that the Department of Justice has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in. And basically, the strategy is designed to target kids who are in violent prone situations or on paths to violence, where you use credible messengers, whether they’re ex-gang members or ex-offenders who grew up in that neighborhood who have the credibility of the streets, who basically are trying to talk kids out of making really bad decisions.

So that’s a non-policing strategy. Sometimes it works in concert with police departments. Sometimes they work independently, like the individual that you referenced earlier in Dallas.

CHAKRABARTI: Anton, yeah.

PIQUERO: Another strategy is cleaning and greening.

And this sounds so simple, but it really is very effective. In lots of cities as you’re basically tearing down dilapidated buildings and you’re making them new again, you’re investing in parks, basketball courts, playgrounds, those kinds of things. They give people a different sense of where they’re at.

And then the other strategy is really that long term strategy. And that is teaching kids self-control. I can tell you the absolute number one thing we can do, of helping a crime prevention over the long term. And it also has lots of other good benefits, is getting kids to stop and think before they act.

It is the most fundamental thing we can do. So when you put all of those things together, you’re dealing with that five-year-old kid, that 10-year-old kid, and that 15-year-old kid, and you’re constantly doing all of those things interchangeably, over time.

CHAKRABARTI: Is cleaning and greening a new way of talking about broken windows?

PIQUERO: So broken windows is some as a term that a lot of people think they know what it is. But it’s really different than that. So cleaning and greening is really investing in places because when you invest in places, Meghna, you’re investing in people, and we can be smart on crime by being smarter on people and on places.

And cleaning and greening is just one part of that. You’re making an environment where people feel safe. People have things to do. They feel proud and prideful about the areas they live.

CHAKRABARTI: It’s a true investment in neighborhoods beyond just like making things look a little nicer.

PIQUERO: Absolutely.

Part III

CHAKRABARTI: Professor Piquero, before we go forward, I just want to clarify something and check with you on this. There are, when we’re talking about absolute violent crime rates, there are other American cities that have lower per capita rates. So we’re focusing, though, on the rate of reduction that Dallas has seen.

Is that an accurate way of putting it?

PIQUERO: Yeah, that would be.

CHAKRABARTI: Okay. Just wanted to double check because sometimes when we’re talking about rates and stuff, people come away thinking, But I know that Los Angeles has a lower X rate, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about bringing it down.

Okay. So hang on with me for just a moment because I want to. Listen to other one other voice that’s been at work on helping reduce Dallas is a violent crime rate. Patricia Allen. She’s vice president of No More Violence. It’s a nonprofit in Dallas that focuses on raising community awareness and providing support to families who have lost loved ones to violence.

PATRICIA ALLEN: I haven’t lost a child, but I lost a student in children’s ministry. / DJ was 14 at the time. Apparently, there was a fight that had nothing to do with him. There was some guys came into apartment complex. Started fighting, one of them apparently had a gun, and I guess when somebody saw the gun, one of the young guys jumped in the car, took off, but when he took off, he did not see DJ, and he ran him over in his apartment parking lot, and he became brain dead.

CHAKRABARTI: Despite overall violent crime in Dallas dipping in recent years, Patricia says local communities can often still feel vulnerable without policy changes that enforce justice to the victims’ families. Meanwhile, she says, more police presence is necessary.

ALLEN: When the community see the police presence in their community, they feel much more safer. But then we want them to know that they can trust us. We want the trust back with our young people.

CHAKRABARTI: So, No More Violence now partners with the Dallas Police Department. Their efforts include hosting basketball tournaments between the local students and the local police to help between their relationship. And connecting youth who’ve committed a violent crime with the parents of their victims.

ALLEN: We want them to see that mother in person. that has lost their child. We want them to understand the effect of what has done to that child, to that mother losing a child so they won’t commit that type of violence.

CHAKRABARTI: But ultimately, Patricia says, the success of hot spot policing and reducing violence in her community will depend on the law enforcement’s success in being part of the community.

ALLEN: You got to be able to hear the voices of what do they want, what they need, what do they see. What can we do to help you? I’m putting it back on police again, unfortunately, because I want them to say we got to be able to connect with the youth in the community and the families in the community to have their protection.

CHAKRABARTI: That’s Patricia Allen, Vice President of the Dallas based organization, No More Violence. Professor Piquero, respond to a couple of things she said there about she still wants the police to connect as much as possible with youth in the community.

PIQUERO: Yeah, that’s critical, right? You just can’t have cops, fly in and fly out.

They’re part of the fabric of the community, and that involves them spending time there. And there are events like this all the time. Coffee with the chief or, here in Miami, they have a dog that they, the kids meet and ice cream and stuff like that. That might seem comical to people, but that’s real.

Those are real interactions. I sat in an event one day with the Miami Police Department, and I saw an officer talk to a kid for over an hour. And that connection and the officer didn’t have to do that. It was the officer’s own time investing in that child’s life. And that is part and parcel of we think about policing.

It’s about policing working with the community, not at or to the community. It’s always part and parcel with the community.

CHAKRABARTI: She also said something very interesting about the arrests or the hotspot policing in and of itself aren’t enough, that families of victims do need to see the overall later stages of the criminal justice system working for them in terms of charges and prosecutions.

What do you think about that?

PIQUERO: Yeah, a lot of police departments, Meghna, actually have actual officers, maybe sometimes non civilian personnel, who actually help a victim or survivor out through the entire process. They walk them through the court proceeding. They’re there after to get them services that they need.

Or direct them to where they need to go and you have to take care of people who’ve been suffering the consequences of losing a family member or relative or spouse or something, due to a homicide. And so those kinds of resources and support structures are really important. And a lot of police departments actually continue that process throughout the entire criminal justice process.

And then thereafter, they just do checkups on people. Even a couple of years later. Hey, how’s things going? You’re doing all right? That’s really important for people.

CHAKRABARTI: So I want to go back to what you said before about, this is, you’re in it. Not you, but a city, its leaders, its police department and its communities have to be in it for the long haul, right?

Because in certain sense, Dallas has definitely proven that. Because I understand that Professor Michael Smith at the University of Texas, San Antonio. You, I’m sure you know of him, Professor Piquero, yeah. So he also works with the Dallas Police Department on the plan. And he noted that most hotspot policing initiatives in cities don’t actually last that long.

They may be, three months, half a year, but Dallas, he says Dallas has seen the reduction in violent crime, because this plan has been going on now for, I guess we’re getting close to three years, two and a half years at least. And that may have been the longest time or one of the longest periods of continuous hotspot policing in the U.S. city for some time.

PIQUERO: That’s correct. The work that Michael is doing with the police chief is almost groundbreaking in a way, in the sense of you have sustained police chiefs. People in their places, right? The chief’s been there for a while. The mayor’s been there for a while, and all of the people in the city are working together on this, and they continue to be there.

And that’s one of those things that we see in places where a new chief comes in or new mayor comes in. They’re gonna have different priorities. They have different things that they want to do. And so the sustainability is the thing I think that sets Dallas apart. But it’s also the commitment from the top down.

And that is critical in cities like Miami and Boston and Dallas that are doing these kinds of strategies, broadly speaking, they are sustained, and they’re committed to doing it across individuals in different units.

CHAKRABARTI: But again, just to be completely fair and honest in our analysis here.

We talked about homicides still being a major problem point in Dallas. And also, I’m seeing here, this is reporting from KERA in Dallas, saying that business robberies have really gone up 60%. And about 60% of those robberies, this is fascinating, can be attributed to about three different groups of serial robbers that have been hitting different parts of Dallas.

One wonders if there’s modifications to, I guess this isn’t hotspot policing, because these are people moving from different places for theft. But actually, what do you make of that that there’s still major areas like business robberies that are problematic?

PIQUERO: Yeah, and that’s the tricky thing. Is that a lot of these crimes that occur, independent of the ones most people think about when they think about violent crime. It’s a lot of intelligence work that has to go on behind the scenes and then to find these individuals. And yeah, that’s not an easy thing to do, right?

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