DALLAS — When Dallas crime spiked in May with 40 murders, then-mayoral candidate Eric Johnson said he wasn’t prepared to give in to what he called "the tyranny of urgency" and declare it a crisis.
Six months later, facing the highest murder numbers in a decade, Johnson, now the mayor of Dallas, reiterated Monday the trend cannot continue.
“The people of Dallas deserve a plan for how we are not going to have a 2020 that looked like 2019, and that’s what I’m asking for,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s statements, during his first-ever “State of the City” address, were his first since he sent a letter six days ago addressed to Dallas city manager T.C. Broadnax. The letter asked for a long-term strategy from Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall to reduce crime.
But he added that what the letter didn’t say is just as important.
“This is not a backdoor way to say we need a new police chief or new city manager,” Johnson said. “I’m asking for exactly what I want, which is a plan for Dallas to reduce its violent crime by a fixed percentage by a certain amount of time.”
Dallas is on pace to top the 200-homicide mark for the first time since 2007. Robberies and assaults are up, too.
While crime is a humanitarian issue, Johnson acknowledged in front of a largely business-minded crowd that public safety affects economic development too.
“It does make it harder to convince Uber to come here and come to Deep Ellum if they feel like their employees are going to become crime statistics,” Johnson said.
Both Broadnax and Hall attended Monday’s event, hosted by the Dallas Regional Chamber, but did not speak to reporters.
Johnson added if he wanted to call for the removal of anyone, he would do it, but says that is not the point of his letter.
“This is not reflective of some break or a lack of confidence with T.C. Broadnax,” Johnson said. "It’s just a reflection of what I felt was necessary to do to get the type of urgency that we need to get this plan done quickly.”
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