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Dallas mayor releases task force report to reduce gun violence

The Mayor's Task Force on Safe Communities report centers on non-policing ways to reduce violent crime.

Updated at 2:24 p.m. with the mayor's comments. 

After a 9-year-old girl was killed inside her home in August, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced the creation of a task force dedicated to finding non-policing ways to reduce crime. 

On Thursday, Johnson unveiled his task force's report detailing ways the city can improve neighborhoods and reduce gun violence.

"I'm not going to allow the city to creep back to the reality I grew up in" Johnson said Thursday afternoon at Dallas City Hall. 

Dallas saw a sharp increase in violent crime in 2019 compared to the previous year. 

In December, Johnson wrote a letter to City Manager T.C. Broadnax requesting a crime reduction plan from the Dallas Police Department. That plan was released last week. 

But the mayor said the plan's call for a 5% reduction rate in violent crime was "not going to cut it." 

Many councilmembers said they would wait to critique the crime reduction plan until they had a chance to review it and ask questions of the police chief. They also said they looked forward to seeing what the mayor's task force would recommend. 

The task force report focuses on four areas: 

  • Remediate blighted buildings and abandoned lots
  • Add outdoor lighting where nighttime violence is worst 
  • Deliver group support to kids in schools 
  • Train "violence interrupters" in high-violence neighborhoods

Much of the 39-page report details successful programs in other cities, including Philadelphia and Chicago.

Mayor Johnson said the task force's sincerity to solve the problems in Dallas is why he believes the recommendations will work. 

The report cites studies that show areas with a large number of dilapidated buildings and abandoned lots are linked to violent crime. In Philadelphia, "blight remediation" led to a 39% reduction in firearm assaults. 

The Dallas task force tracked crime statistics in neighborhoods and compared those statistics with the number of dilapidated buildings and abandoned lots. The group estimates that for every $10,000 spent on fixing up neglected buildings could prevent nearly nine violent crimes. 

"I'm heartsick about the lives we've lost in this city, but I'm proud of the work the task force has done," said Mayor Johnson. 

The task force hopes that within five years, the violent crime rate will reach a record low. 

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