U.S. Attorney General William Barr is visiting a far northeast Dallas boxing gym Wednesday to discuss reducing crime at a time when the city is facing a sharp increase in homicides and violence.
Barr will join U.S. Senator John Cornyn, U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox and local law enforcement at the North Lake Highlands Youth Boxing Gym. The group plans to discuss efforts to reduce violent crime in specific neighborhoods under the federal Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative.
The gym is located at the intersection of Forest Lane and Audelia Road, an area known for high crime rates.
The Project Safe Neighborhood task force has focused its resources in the Forest-Audelia neighborhood. The area is dense with apartment complexes.
The neighborhood averages more than 15 homicides each year and has a significant number of robberies, aggravated assaults and gang activity, according to police statistics.
The federal, state and local law enforcement partnership has been successful in identifying and arresting some of the most violent offenders under the national Project Safe Neighborhood initiative, authorities say.
Cornyn introduced the Project Safe Neighborhood Act in 2001, and the federal government will put $50 million into the program between fiscal years 2019 and 2021.
The effort prioritizes arresting and prosecuting leaders of criminal enterprises to reduce crime. It also increases street-level outreach in neighborhoods and offers social services to juveniles.
There have been more than 140 killings this year in Dallas. And the Dallas Police Department faces an officer shortage.
In June, the department accepted an offer from Gov. Greg Abbott to send state troopers to help Dallas officers tackle a rise in violent crime in eight areas of the city.
The additional enforcement was controversial in some communities, including South Dallas. Some neighbors complained to city leaders the state troopers were engaging in excessive and questionable traffic stops, profiling and harassment.
Representatives from the Texas Department of Public Safety said the troopers were successful in making arrests, seizing stolen cars and getting hundreds of guns off the streets.
Mayor Eric Johnson publicly thanked the governor for sending the resources to Dallas.
The North Lake Highlands Youth Boxing Gym is staffed by Dallas police. Barr is expected to tour the gym after the roundtable discussion.
The others participating in the roundtable are:
- Jason Roberts, the Better Block Foundation
- Dallas City Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates
- Dallas City Council member Adam McGough
- Jeoff Williams, regional director of Texas DPS
- Dallas police acting Chief David Pughes
- FBI special agent Matthew DeSarno
- Special agent Jeffrey Bishkek II of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- Eduardo Chavez, the Drug Enforcement Administration
- U.S. Marshal Richard Taylor Jr.