Dallas, Texas – Taking a page out of the playbook of Boston’s law enforcement strategies dating back several decades, the Dallas Police Department has now implemented an innovative tactic known as “focused deterrence” as a pivotal weapon in their crime-fighting arsenal.
Dallas Police Department uses the strategy to help offenders, but also lower crime rate in the city
The strategy, which relies on one-on-one intervention, specifically targets those individuals most susceptible to committing acts of violence. The premise is simple yet profound: entice potential offenders onto a path of productivity and positivity, or brace for inevitable punishment through the federal judicial system.
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia refers to this dichotomy as an “olive branch,” symbolizing a choice between rehabilitation and retribution—a personal decision that could pivot the trajectory of an individual’s life.
Chief Garcia articulates the philosophy underlying focused deterrence with conviction.
“Focused deterrence really is getting a group of individuals that would otherwise be susceptible to violent crime at risk individuals and giving them two messages: first message is we’re not going to tolerate violence in our city,” said Chief Garcia in an interview with FOX 4. “If they need other things to get started we want to help them get in the right direction for them and their families.”
A fortnight ago, Chief Garcia, flanked by an entourage of community partners, convened a face-to-face intervention session involving more than two dozen individuals with recurring brushes with the law.
The identified participants, dubbed ‘chronic offenders,’ possess an array of criminal histories, ranging from recent violent crime involvement, probation, parole, gang affiliations, and a pattern of committing multiple violent offenses within city limits.
Garcia highlighted that a data-driven approach played an essential role in identifying these specific individuals, illustrating the intersection of modern technology and traditional law enforcement techniques.
Dallas PD partners with Metrocare and South Dallas Employment Project for this project
Among the partners contributing to this initiative are Metrocare, a local mental health service provider, and the South Dallas Employment Project, an ambitious collaboration encompassing over 100 organizations. This collective strives to provide employment opportunities and essential life skills, underpinning the mission of focused deterrence with tangible resources and support, fostering a true sense of community integration and upliftment.
“They took part in a lot of the resources, so it was a great meeting. We’ll do them quarterly, and what we’re going to start to do is not only individuals who are out of custody, but we’re going to start to take the show into custodial facilities as well to get that message out before individuals get released back into our city,” said Garcia.
While Dallas has seen an overall decline in violent incidents this year, it is not without concern as the city has witnessed a surge in its homicide rate compared to the previous year. However, recent trends suggest a hopeful shift, as Police Chief Eddie Garcia affirms.
“When you look at the homicide rate we’ve done some remarkable work in the last month and a half,” said Garcia. “I think we were 22 or 23 murders over where we were last year and as of this morning I think we’re nine over. So we’ve reduced homicides in the most critical months, which is important, but what we’ve continued to reduce has been violent incidents.”
In reassessing the city’s crime metrics, Garcia emphasizes that the murder rate does not stand as the sole indicator of the city’s safety. It’s the prevalence of other violent crimes, such as aggravated assaults, that holds significant weight in their crime-fighting benchmark. This particular element of their strategy aims to suppress these numbers further.
“A hundred robberies, a hundred aggravated assaults are not committed by a hundred different people. So, if we’re able to concentrate on chronic offenders we’ll be able to reduce violent crime even further in the City of Dallas,” said Chief Garcia.
The success of this ‘focused deterrence’ strategy will be measured not just by the number of individuals who initially accept the support offered but by how many continue to engage with the program, thereby indicating a genuine commitment to change their life trajectory. The sustained involvement of these individuals is a crucial metric for the strategy’s long-term success and efficacy.