DALLAS — Traditionally, 4th of July weekend is the most violent weekend of the year in Dallas. Last year there were 10 people shot and 4 others died from gun violence.
But this weekend was different.
”We had no lives lost to gunfire this weekend. We had 25 less shootings this weekend than we had last year,” said Chief Eddie Garcia, Dallas Police Department.
Chief Eddie Garcia says they brought in more officers on overtime, cancelled some vacations and put officers in areas where violence tends to erupt.
”What happened over the weekend was not an accident. It was not luck. It was because hard-working men and women sacrificed their family time, sacrificed their 4th of July to do the best for this city,” said Garcia.
Garcia says he wishes he had that kind of man power every weekend but the department needs more resources. There are currently 3,081 sworn officers but he says he needs 3,500. He says his department is stretched thin.
”No question that with more resources we can move the needle even further than we have done here,” said Garcia.
He says, as the Chief, his greatest concern is gun violence with more than 400 million firearms in circulation across the U.S.
”As a police chief you know legislation is great but it’s not going to miraculously dissolve every fire arm that’s in circulation,” said Garcia.
So they focus on taking illegal firearms and violent criminals off the street but that is also where the community comes in.
Mar Butler is a violence interrupter with Dallas Cred, an extension of Youth Advocate Programs, and he agrees.
His organization is teaming up with other groups to get the message out that the community has to be part of the solution.
”We need to come together to get involved. We know exactly where the violent crime is going to begin before it even happens but yet we still stay silent, and silence is condoning violence. We have to speak up,” said Butler.
He says he knows there can be distrust of law enforcement and that’s why he and others go into the most violent areas to get people to talk to them.
”This is our city and our problem and we have to get involved some kind of way. We can’t keep giving permission to criminals to commit violence,” said Butler.
Both Garcia and Butler agree the first step is crime reduction but the next step is strengthening neighborhoods by working with schools and groups that help with redevelopment. You also have to give people hope.