DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson touted the city's crime-fighting efforts and praised Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia's plan to reduce crime.
During his State of the City address before Council Members and other elected leaders representing the city he said, "I'm happy to report it's working, it's working. It's still early, but the turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable."
City records show between January 1 and November 16, there were 193 murders, 30 fewer or a more than 13% drop from the same time period one year earlier.
The Mayor said, "We're bucking those trends, and we're leading the nation. While other cities across the country are still struggling to slow violence, crime in Dallas is going down."
In addition to law enforcement, the city has tried to reduce crime by eliminating blighted areas.
It is one of the recommendations that came from the Mayor's task force to reduce crime.
Derrick Battie is a member of the task force and a member of the South Oak Cliff Alumni Community.
Battie said a perfect example of how ridding a neighborhood of blight and crime can be found just down the street from South Oak Cliff High School on Overton Road near I-35: It's the South Oak Cliff Renaissance Park, which had its grand opening Saturday. "It's a dream come true to be able to bring these beautiful green spaces to South Oak Cliff."
Before the gardens, boulders for rock climbing, and other equipment this area was a dumping ground filled with old tires and drug bags and needles.
Battie said, "We were very aware of the fights that used to be here. We were very aware of the illegal dumping that went on here. Very aware of the drug use that went on here."
But Battie said with the help of the group Trust for Public Land, and many others, the $2.2 million park became a reality.
Seeing is believing. "Some of these kids have never gotten to see a park like this unless they went to Klyde Warren. When you change mindsets, you begin to see crime come down. We've seen a reduction in crime in this community."
Aside from reducing crime, the Mayor said during his speech that the city needs to do a better job of attracting economic development.
He said Dallas already does a good job attracting major companies to relocate here. "We have to start thinking more about the people who can fill those jobs, the people who already call our city home."
The Mayor announced that he will release a report on workforce development Thursday aimed at connecting jobs with the under-employed.
Battie agreed. "There's economic development, but it hasn't reached the community level. We have to put that thing on steroids and be very intentional about how we address those who need jobs, who want jobs, who may have some barriers that keep them from getting jobs."
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