DALLAS -- The City of Dallas is on pace to have the highest murder rate in nearly a decade.
For the first nine months of the year, Dallas averaged about 15 murders a month. If the trend continues, Dallas will record about 180 murders this year. That would be the highest number since 2007, when the city saw 200 people killed.
With Friday’s ambush-style double murder in broad daylight, Dallas reached 136 murders -– the same total as all of last year. On Saturday, a man was gunned down in front of a convenience store, bringing the total to 137 murders to date in 2016.
“It's another sign that we need to put some more resources into the Dallas Police Department,” said Scott Griggs, whose district encompasses the area where Friday’s double murder occurred.
Community activist Taylor Toynes took to Facebook early Monday wrote to express his heartache that too many people are dying in southeast Oak Cliff.
Just since Jan. 1, at least 20 people have been murdered in that small geographical area. Census records show about 20,000 people live there.
“This is reality for people,” said Toynes, who taught school in the area until recently. “This is actually every day and the thing is, Dallas has the means and resources to make a change -- make a drastic change.”
Census records say 70 percent of the children under the age of five in that area live in poverty.
Toynes says he's seen the link between crime and poverty as an educator up close and personal. Violence was a routine part of the lives of the children he taught.
“They’ve become almost immune to it or desensitized,” said Toynes, who grew up in the area.
He still worries that one of his former students or their parents will get killed or end up killing someone. He worries about his own safety when he’s working in the area.
“If they see me with a new car or new phone or whatever it may be and they need it, they'll go about any means to get it from me,” he said. “My wife is really fearful. She always tells me to be careful.”
The rising violent crime hits home for Toynes for another reason.
One of those killed in Dallas this year was his high school classmate, Justin Manning. Manning was shot to death inside his car in February in front of a restaurant on Ann Arbor Avenue.
Like so many of Dallas' killings, his friend's case remains unsolved.
Through the end of August, only 41 percent of the murders in the City of Dallas this year had been solved.
“A lot of minorities are getting killed, and it has been ignored,” he said. “But if there were three murders that took place in Highland Park, there’s going to be policies changed. There’s going to be beefed-up security. There’s going to be more officers put on the beat, or whatever it took to make a difference.”
Toynes is trying to do this part. He's starting a nonprofit to try to improve the situation in Oak Cliff because he knows it’ll take more than just more police to turn things around.
The rising murder tide is also happening as Dallas struggles to retain and hire officers.
News 8 has learned that Dallas had about 300 officers leave the department in the fiscal year that ended Friday.
It was the highest number of officers to leave in a fiscal year since the late 1980s. Last year, about 240 officers left the department, which, at that time, was a record high.
The department is losing dozens of younger officers to other departments that pay significantly more.
It’s also losing more veteran officers who are quitting largely because of problems related to the troubled police and fire pension fund. About 40 or 50 more officers are expected to retire in this month, including Police Chief David Brown, who retires on Tuesday.
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