A year after the ‘defense’, the police departments get their money back

DALLAS – Protesters arrive at night, chanting slogans and whistling outside Mayor Eric Johnson’s home, occasionally protesting in private and refusing to cut funding to the Dallas Police Department.

“Defend! Recovery! Invest again! About two dozen people called from the dark streets of Dallas. A few weeks later, the police chief resigned over his large-scale protests. The city council then voted to cut overtime and how much money the department could use to hire new officers.

That was last year.

This year has been very different.

Police departments in various American cities are getting their money back. From New York to Los Angeles, the departments that saw their funding in nationwide protests against the George Floyd assassination last year saw local leaders vote for an increase in police spending, an additional 200 200 million allocated to the New York Police Department and a 3 percent increase to the Los Angeles force. Given.

Last year saw an abrupt change in the response to the exodus of officials from the department, from large and small and political pressures to rising crime levels in big cities. After slashing police spending last year, Austin revived the department’s budget and raised it to new heights. In the city of Burlington, VT, Senator Bernie Sanders, who once led as mayor, approved a 10,000 10,000 bonus for keeping officers in jobs, ranging from cutting the police budget.

But perhaps nowhere is this the opposite, as in Dallas, where Mr. Johnson not only offered to recover money in the department but also removed it to increase the number of officers on the streets, wrote in the summer that “Dallas needs more police officers.”

“Dallas stands for the amount it is investing in the local government department,” said Laura Cooper, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

There was no protest after the mayor proposed an increase in funding. When the council backed a budget that revived many of the cuts made last year, few came to the public hearing, and even fewer people spoke out against the plan, which included the appointment of 250 officials. It passed with little fanfare last month.

In prioritizing public safety, Mr. Johnson, a Democrat, developed a relationship with his approach and among other black leaders, such as Eric Adams, the Democratic mayoral nominee in New York, who saw the police as a necessary part of helping people in the neighborhood by crime. And he has the experience of growing up in the Black neighborhood of Dallas.

During an interview at Dallas City Hall, Mr. “As an African American man in the 1990s, I remember many people whose lives were devastated by the violence,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to go back there.”

To tackle the rise in violent crime last year-homicide 25 percent to 252 যা is the highest point in two decades ড Dallas has introduced an old-school approach: “hot spot” policing. The strategy, which relies on the notion that a small number of places have a large amount of crime in a city, has been tried and tested across the country for decades. Criminologists have found that it works to reduce crime in areas identified as problematic.

The number of murders recorded so far in Dallas has dropped slightly and overall violent crime has dropped by almost one percent compared to the same period last year. But a pull of the hot spot approach remains a point.

“Hot spot policing is a polarizing issue, especially within the color community,” said Chief Eddie Garcia, who took charge of the Dallas department this year and worked with outside researchers on hot spot planning. “Nothing was working – we’re doing something that seems to be working.”

Gerard Cliverburn, 49, was well aware of the concept and concerned about its application, at a Kitz barber shop in South Dallas, a predominantly black neighborhood where assault and robbery were a problem.

“When you talk about hot spots, they’re still a minority community,” he said. Cleburn, who is Black, said while waiting for a customer. “I can’t say his plan won’t work. But it is a big solution that is needed. He said he initially wanted to see more training for officers.

The barber shop was a place of mourning after its owner was shot dead two years ago. Most recently, it has become a place where police officers occasionally hold informal meetings with local residents. On a recent visit, the area commander, Deputy Chief Osama Ismail, sat down to shave a trim and straight razor while Lieutenant Leroy Quig was talking to a customer about football.

“They’re trying to close that gap and humanize the department,” Mr. Said Klebern. “It’s something that should have happened decades ago.”

The question of policing in Dallas has been filled year after year. Officials said the size of the force declined sharply in 2016 – from about 3,600 to about 3,100 officers, after hundreds of officers resigned – mostly on pension issues. That same year, five officers were killed by heavy-armed snipers targeting white officers in protest of the killing of blacks by police.

At the same time, the recent deadly killings of Dallas police officers have soured relations with the community. Sitting at the department’s headquarters, Botham Jean Boulevard, earlier this year was named after the black Dallas man who shot and killed Duty of Dallas police officer Amber Geiger at his home in 2018, who mistaken his own apartment.

More recently, the department has been struggling to remove a large amount of police evidence data earlier this year, representing about 22 terabytes of tens of thousands of cases. Officials have been able to recover some information, but an official report released two weeks ago found that about one-third were permanently lost.

Garcia, who came to Dallas from San Jose, California, had early success in improving officer morale. Officials said fewer officers have left the department this year than expected.

But some local reform advocates have complained that the department has become less open to working with those who want broad, structural change.

Dominic Alexander, president of the Next Generation Action Network, a Dallas-based civil rights group, said: “There was a lot of movement last year. “With this new police chief, it’s gone.”

Mr. Alexander, who grew up in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas as mayor, last year met Mr. Johnson was among the protesters outside his home.

He said he decided his party would not oppose the mayor’s plan to increase police funding this year because he had left the local political system. Instead, Mr. Alexander said he was preparing to sue the U.S. Department of Justice about policing in Dallas.

With a population of 1.3 million, the country’s ninth-most populous city has a history of ethnic conflict that can still be seen on its streets – including a Confederate cemetery in a black neighborhood in South Dallas – and its sharp divisions between the north and south . Below this, mostly black and Hispanic. The above has seen rapid economic development in recent years. Below, some still live without municipal sewer services.

“Police presence may be a hindrance, but it’s not the answer to getting rid of crime,” said Adam Bajaldua, a progressive Democrat and first Hispanic, elected to the city council from his area of ​​South Dallas, which was once largely black but is now much Includes Hispanic residents. In Dallas, blacks make up about 24 percent of the population and Hispanics make up about 42 percent.

Mr Bajaldua said he was labeled a “defender” by his opponents for removing some funds from the overtime budget to the police, and in particular for promising it to a section of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Many boarded businesses.

Mr Bajaldua faced a number of challenges to his re-election earlier this year, including the support of a mayor who thought his position on police funding had weakened him. The police union even pulled out a billboard as he was leaving his home. Bajaldua warned that he “voted to defend our police.”

But the politics of policing in Dallas is not straightforward. Either way, he won re-election.

Reform Advocate Mr. “This whole myth that we are not supported by the people, this past election has shown us that we are supported by the people,” Alexander said.

The new funding approved by the council will be enough to add a total of 100 officers over the next two years, officials said, even officials said. The budget includes more money for police intervention options, such as special teams trained to handle 911 calls for people with mental health problems.

Although crime has declined this year, violence remains a major concern for residents of many low-income apartment complexes in the city.

The Rosemont apartments on Meadow Street appear from the outside as a complex gate complex with well-maintained, a pool and attached base townhouse-style apartments. But the gate is broken, permanently open and the bridge is out of bounds, residents said. Ride-healing services like Uber and Lift refuse to go inside.

“I was snatched right there,” said Tyra Thigpen, 28, pointing to the parking lot just a few steps from her front door. In the summer, a man grabbed her purse and tried to run, but it got caught on her shoulder, and Mrs. Thigpen said she was dragged into the car, broke three ribs and had scars on her legs.

While she was talking, her son, aged 5, was playing with a group of other children. “Her dad was shot right here, the same spot, daylight,” he said. “I want to move, because my kids are resistant to gunfire.” Another man, who he said was recently shot in the same area, was sitting in a wheelchair nearby.

Her son wants to be a police officer, Mrs. Thigpen said, showing a picture of her in a Halloween costume as an officer. “I am here for this. We are not against them, ”he added. “He knows good and bad.”

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