DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson's Task Force on Safe Communities met for the first time Monday evening.
The three Task Force co-chairs, — Alan Cohen, Rene Martinez, and Pastor Mike Bowie — met 13 members at the St. Luke Community United Methodist Church. The members include a former city councilman, a criminologist, businessman and neighborhood activist among others.
To help the Task Force get organized and acquainted, the first meeting was not open to the public.
Brock Crenshaw, a father of three in Pleasant Grove, said he hopes Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson's new Task Force on Safe Communities will help find ways to reduce violent crime.
"I have kids myself and I would love to see a change for the positive, for the better," Crenshaw said.
It was only three months ago — not even a block away — when innocent bystander, 13-year-old Malik Tyler, was walking by a gas station and car wash, and got shot and killed in others' crossfire.
"It makes me worried because, you know, my daughter — my oldest daughter — is 7 and she's coming of age where I want her to start walking to school by herself," Crenshaw said.
Martinez said they will bring in experts from other cities to learn best practices, and reach out to communities in North Texas.
"There might be some people in our community in our own neighborhoods that have a lot of intervention strategies they can share with us," he said.
Statistics from the Dallas Police Department show violent crime between Jan. 1 and Sept. 8 this year rose nearly 17% from the same time last year.
The Task Force members will be divided into three committees, which will each be led by the co-chairs.
They have about three months to not only gather information, but report recommendations to the mayor and council members.
Bowie said many people have expressed an interest in the Task Force.
"I've gotten a lot of phone calls and emails. Corporate sponsors want to be a part of the solution in the city of Dallas. So we told them to be patient once we get the task force aligned then we can find out the goals and move forward." Martinez said. "Dallas is a can-do city. Dallas has a spirit of philanthropy. Dallas has a lot of volunteerism, so I am an optimist."
Though, Crenshaw said the most important thing for parents to remember is that it all starts in the home.
"I would say it's very important to put the weight of the development and the upbringing on the parent, whatever way you can put on," he said.
Future meetings of the Task Force will be open to the public.
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