Dallas feels less safe, and it’s time for city government to acknowledge it

dallasnews.com

If you ask City Manager T.C. Broadnax or Police Chief U. Renee Hall about crime in Dallas, they’ll tell you that major crimes are down. But as we peruse the city’s own database two deadly crimes stand out: weapons and drugs.

According to the Dallas Police Department’s weekly report to City Council members, weapons violations citywide are up 69 percent so far this year. Drug and narcotics offenses are up 57 percent.

What brought these statistics onto our radar was the arrest Saturday of Rene Eduardo Montanez Jr. on a capital murder charge in the death of Joseph Anthony Pintucci, an 18-year-old former Highland Park High School student. Police describe the incident as a drug deal gone bad in a parking garage. Pintucci’s death has drawn a great deal of attention, but a quick review of this newspaper’s files reveal many other such drug-related acts of violence.

Here are the details as we know them about Pintucci’s shooting last week at the Shops at Park Lane. Police said he had used a social media app to arrange a drug sale, according to an arrest-warrant affidavit. He was in his car with two other people when Montanez and two men pulled guns and stole the drugs from him, according to the affidavit. One of the men shot Pintucci, who later died, as the trio fled on foot, the affidavit says.

Drug deals go bad all across the city and often result in violence. Pintucci’s slaying, tragic as it is, is not unique in its circumstances.

But it has caused us to reflect on a growing and worrying sense that we hear expressed more and more often in the city. We worry that  Dallas is re-entering a period where residents feel less safe. A review of any number of neighborhood social media pages will reveal that crime is, again, becoming the top topic, whether it is theft or threat of violence. Snapshots of horrible crimes like Pintucci’s death can spread fear beyond the reality of the actual public risk. And our city does remain safer in many ways than it was in a different time in history.  But in cities, when it comes to crime and safety, perception is reality. And the perception is shifting.

We have seen strong neighborhoods around Dallas rallying dormant crime watches and gathering funds to hire extra officer patrols. These are important and valuable tools to prevent crime. But they also suggest a broader sense that the city isn’t handling fears of crime with the resources it has.

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