Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia started work in February, and hit the ground running. Now, he’s been making a series of visits to community crime watch and neighborhood association meetings, hearing people out about their concerns, and answering questions.
A recent series of visits to community crime watch meetings included stops in Midway Hollow and at a meeting with the Briarwood and Devonshire neighborhoods.
The latter, which was held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, was also live-streamed so that they could limit attendance inside.
During the meeting, Garcia gave a bit of an overview of the work the department has been doing to address violent crime and the understaffing of 911 operators. He answered a laundry list of questions ranging from his hiring plans and his plan to retain experienced officers.
Of particular interest among residents was the department’s work to quell the incidents of street racing and street takeovers. A task force has been working to respond to the incidents, he said, pointing to the weekend of Aug. 13 and 14, when the department made 81 arrests and issued 43 citations — 16 of them to spectators. Thirty-five vehicles were towed, and seven guns were seized.
Among the spots the department responded to that August weekend were the intersections of Inwood Road and Walnut Hill Lane, North Central Expressway and Meadow Lane, and Royal Lane and Inwood Road.
“Since Feb. 19, our street racing task force has made 3,858 traffic stops related to street racing,” Garcia said. “They’ve issued 560 hazardous citations. They’ve given over 2,500 regulatory citations and given 316 spectator citations, they’ve towed 411 cars. They’ve answered over 3,900 calls for service. They’ve made 81 felony arrests, 544 misdemeanor arrests. They’ve taken 86 guns off the street, 120 drug cases, and recovered 22 stolen vehicles.”
But that’s not all the department is doing.
“We are not going to arrest our way out of the racing issue,” Garcia said, adding that the city is also working to make those intersections less attractive to racers. “We’re not going to solve this problem by arresting people and towing cars.”
Garcia said that the city and the department are working together to identify intersections that are common hot spots for street racing and intersection takeovers, using engineering to make it harder to perform stunts.
“We look at engineering and we got to make some of these streets less attractive for these individuals to do these violent stunts and intersections or long stretches of roadway that don’t have breaks in them,” Garcia said. “We need to do something from an engineering perspective because we can’t put a police officer at every corner.
“We have piloted a few methods to make intercessions less attractive by putting up raised traffic markers — AKA the little bumps on the road — and it makes the intersection less attractive for individuals to do their donuts and spin-outs,” he continued.
“Your police officers are doing amazing work,” Garcia added. “But we need to combine our efforts with that engineering piece. And we are working closely with the city entities to help us do that, which is fantastic.”
While at the church, Garcia also talked about the importance of crime prevention at the neighborhood level — and how it takes a combined effort of residents and police to reduce opportunities for crime.
“We can’t do it alone, and we need your help … we talk about police work is intelligence and data-driven,” he said. “The best intelligence comes from inside this room, so we need to utilize that. You see something, say something, report suspicious activity to us, and then, you know, lock and take and hide your valuables that are in cars.
“I’m not trying to pass the onus onto you — obviously the onus goes on the criminals that are breaking into your car. I’m just saying, let’s try to make it less attractive for them to do that.”