Back in Dallas, Garcia has a go-to phrase to sum up his long-term vision: weeding and seeding.
“We need to weed the criminal element that’s responsible for violent crime,” he said. “But we’re also trying to seed those same areas with positivity. And that’s part of the plan that I hope doesn’t get missed.”
Dallas officials, citing security concerns, have not publicly identified the roughly 50 hot spot grids or the two locations in which they are testing the broader place network investigations strategy. But The Post was allowed to observe the hot spot strategy in a handful of locations last fall.
Within the grids, opinions from community members ranged from anger to ambivalence, and in some cases, cautious praise.
In southwest Dallas, the hub of Grid No. 6913 is the Super 7 Inn — a long-term-stay motel that police officials say has been plagued by violent crime. One night last fall, an officer in an unmarked car entered license plate numbers of nearby cars into an electronic system — looking for stolen vehicles or other violations. Officers in a marked cruiser soon pulled over a Dodge Charger with an expired registration tag and arrested the driver for outstanding warrants on traffic tickets. A small amount of marijuana was recovered, but officers said the quantity did not meet the threshold for criminal charges.
Two passengers in the car, who were released without being charged with a crime, criticized the policing tactics used in the area.
“They’re not going to protect us,” said Marquez Penagraph, a 22-year-old Black college student. “Ain’t no African American, male or female, thinking they’ve got police help. I guarantee you — they are not.”
Across the street, a small group of men watched from a grassy field as police swarmed the area during the stop.
“This is an area of high crime and high drugs,” said Christopher Middleton, 37, a long-term resident of the Super 7 Inn. “If nobody wasn’t doing nothing, [the police] are not gonna be here, right?”
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Across the city, in Grid No. 46649, a stretch of rundown houses on Hamilton Avenue had been flagged by police as one of the city’s most violent areas. One house, painted blue, was boarded up. Three women sat on a bed of blankets and pillows on the porch, playing dominoes.
Lauthasal Langley, 45, said that for the past few months, she has used the porch as a place to sleep and keep an eye on her two friends.
“They think that every time that they see a group of Black folks together, it has to be some drugs going on, or a crime going on,” she said, pointing at the nearby Dallas police officers. “No. We just like to hang out. This is what we do.”
In a command staff meeting in October, police leaders described evidence of an illegal drug operation within the block of Hamilton Avenue. One official suggested that the next step to address the house where Langley and her friends live would be to work with city code enforcement to declare it uninhabitable and possibly tear it down.
Garcia said the place network investigations strategy aims to provide assistance to people such as Langley by coordinating services from multiple city agencies, including the Office of Homeless Solutions.
“Solving a problem isn’t necessarily arresting people,” Garcia said.
At the end of the year, homicides were down by 13 percent, against a 5 percent increase in homicide numbers in major cities nationwide. Dallas officials also reported a citywide 9 percent decrease in violent crime from the previous year.
Smith, the criminologist guiding Dallas’s plan, said the crime reduction program is working. Grids that were prioritized in the fall showed a nearly 53 percent reduction in violent crime from the three-month period before the experiment began, according to summary data. Grids that did not receive enhanced policing recorded only a 12 percent decrease.
This content was originally published here.