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Dallas Mayor Calls Sharp Rise In Murders, Aggravated Assaults In July 'Unacceptable'

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Murders and aggravated assaults rose sharply in Dallas in July compared to the same month last year.

The numbers come one year after Dallas saw record violent crime increases for the decade.

On Tuesday, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said seven months into the year, he doesn't see violent crime in the city moving in the right direction. "It's not good. I'm not happy about it."

Dallas PD records show homicides shot up by 108% last month from a year earlier.

There were 25 this July compared to 12 in July 2019.

Year to year, the number of homicides is down slightly, nearly two and a half percent.

Aggravated assaults, non-family violence, jumped by 25% last month from a year ago.

There were 529 this July compared to 424 in July 2019.

Year to date, they've jumped by 30% compared to the same period last year.

Violent crime overall in the city dropped by nearly two and a half percent in July of this year from July 2019 and year to date, the rate has remained flat.

Mayor Johnson said, "A 30% increase year over year in aggravated assaults is unacceptable Jack. And we're going to meet or exceed our homicide numbers from last year, which were a record number of homicides from the past decade. Unacceptable, has to change. No excuse for it in the middle of a pandemic either."

When Police Chief Renee Hall implemented her plan to reduce violent crime in January of this year, her goal was a five percent overall reduction in the violent crime category citywide.

Chief Hall was unavailable for an interview Tuesday.

Dallas Police Major Terrence Rhodes said officers have targeted patrols in high crime areas, conduct two roundups a month, and put in place a violent crime response team.

Major Rhodes said in half the murder cases this July, the victim knew the suspect.

He also said people are stressed from the pandemic.

"People aren't social distancing as we see every Saturday and Sunday night downtown or anywhere around the city. A lot of people congregating and tempers sometimes flare and people don't know how to resolve their differences without violence," he said

Individual and business robberies though plummeted last month from July 2019 by 35%.

There were 284 this July compared to 436 the same month last year.

Year to date, robberies fell by 25% from 2,656 last year to 1,992 this year.

Mayor Johnson wasn't impressed.

"Robberies and burglaries, harder to burglarize a home when the people are in it. It's harder to commit a robbery when there's no one on the streets. Those numbers are supposed to go down. So I'm not surprised. I'm not patting us on the back," he said.

The increased murders and aggravated assaults come as some leaders and residents want to defund the police.

The Mayor rejects that.

"I think we need to actually not defund the police but actually up continue the path that we agreed as a council last year, which is to hire more well qualified, well trained officers to engage in community policing," he said.

The coronavirus pandemic shutdowns have led to lower sales tax revenues and will force more budget cuts.

The City Manager will release his draft budget to the Mayor, council members, and the public on Friday of this week.

"I think that it's going to require us cutting the bureaucracy and cutting some high paid employees at the city and some salary cuts."

The Mayor said if that happens, he's willing to donate a part of his $80,000 a year salary, to help pay for recommendations by his task force on safe communities.

"There is a private sector fund that's taking private donations that are tax exempt, tax-deductible donations, I'm happy to contribute the difference in my salary to that fund, if we approve a cut."

The task force recommendations include reducing blight and improving lighting in certain communities, working with Dallas ISD to make sure students learn how to resolve their conflicts peaceful and bringing violence interrupters into communities to supplement what police are doing.

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