As PSN Celebrates Anniversary, Dallas Taskforce Surpasses 100 Arrests
Data-Driven Initiative Combines Innovative Enforcement, Community Outreach, and Recidivism Reduction
As the National “Project Safe Neighborhoods” Initiative celebrates its one-year anniversary today, U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox is proud to announce that the Dallas PSN Taskforce has executed its 100th arrest.
Fifty of these violent criminals have been charged in federal court, and dozens more face charges filed by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.
Dubbed “Operation Badge #10934” in honor of fallen DPD Officer Rogelio Santander, Dallas PSN was launched in February 2018 to tackle increasing violent crime.
Led by U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox and Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall, the PSN Taskforce -- a coalition of federal and local law enforcement that includes FBI, ATF, DEA, and the U.S. Marshals Service -- worked with TCU criminologists to analyze district-wide violent crime data. They zeroed in on a violent crime “hotspot,” a diverse community of around 98,000 people nestled at the intersection of Route 75 and LBJ Freeway. Home to densely-packed apartment complexes housing a significant refugee community, the neighborhood has a $41,883 median household income, a median age of just over 30, and more than 21,000 kids under the age of 14.
The PSN Taskforce believed the neighborhood, which suffers more than 15 homicides on average each year and ranks high in aggravated assaults and robberies, could benefit from a three-pronged approach, combining traditional enforcement, community outreach, and recidivism reduction.
Underscoring PSN Dallas’ momentum, the Justice Department this week awarded the Northern District of Texas more than $700,000 to fund PSN efforts in 2019.
Prong 1: Law Enforcement
A group of more than 60 PSN taskforce officers and agents -- from the Dallas Police Department, FBI – Dallas Division, DEA, ATF, U.S. Marshals, Dallas Sheriff’s Office, Dallas District Attorney’s Office, DISD, and DART -- come together every week to review arrests and identify trends.
PSN AUSAs have charged dozens of individuals with federal felonies, ranging from carjacking to straw purchasing. Cases include:
Prong 2: Community Outreach
To that end, the taskforce translated educational materials into eight languages, then posted information cards detailing PSN goals and tip-line contacts at local retailers. The team reiterated the message at more than 45 community events with neighborhood groups, apartment managers, and local business organizations, where they spoke about the vision for a safer neighborhood and how residents could help achieve it.
As part of a project nicknamed “Operation Greenlight,” they encouraged locals to install security cameras at key intersections. And next month, the PSN taskforce will begin gang prevention sessions at high schools inside the hotspot.
PSN’s outreach has already yielded tangible results, including collaboration with residents leading to the arrests of several violent offenders.
In August, the U.S. Attorney’s Office celebrated these strides by hosting over 1,000 guests at the first annual Community Unity Festival at Tasby Middle School. While adults munched on complementary “Back the Blue” DPD BBQ and surveyed the job fair and wellness screenings, their kids peeked into the DEA chopper, crawled inside the FBI SWAT vehicle, donned tactical gear, and shot hoops with law enforcement officers. (PHOTOS available.)
Prong 3: Recidivism Reduction
One night a month, the taskforce hosts a mandatory Reentry Night, outlining ramifications of re-offending and presenting a buffet of resources, from job placement programs to counseling opportunities.
The sessions, typically attended by 300 people or more, strike a positive note, including video vignettes with testimony from former felons. In surveys distributed at the close of the session, 96% of attendees rated the program “helpful” in their reentry journey.
“I’m so proud of the way our local and federal law enforcement have come together to build relationships with the community and foster lasting change in a neighborhood that’s long been plagued by crime,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “I’m confident this data-driven, comprehensive strategy can have a real impact. This community deserves nothing less.”
“We are truly excited about the success of Project Safe Neighborhood. This is community policing partnerships at its best. Since its inception, we’ve seen an overall reduction in crime of 6.43 percent,” added Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall. “This dynamic initiative allows the Dallas Police Department’s PSN team to collaborate weekly on strategies to identify and target enforcement. The Dallas community is a safer area to live, work and play.”
“Creating a safe environment for Dallas citizens, with the assistance of law enforcement at every level, is a noble undertaking,” said Eric K. Jackson, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Division. “The FBI supports PSN, and will be a part of making the City of Dallas safer for future generations.”
“DEA is proud to work in conjunction with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas as well as numerous other federal, state and local law enforcement entities to combat violent crime as part of the Project Safe Neighborhood Initiative,” stated DEA Dallas Field Office Special Agent In Charge Clyde E. Shelly. “The partnership embodies the DEA motto, ‘Tough work, vital mission.’”
“ATF, our law enforcement partners and the strategic application of intelligence and resources have removed firearms and violent offenders from this community plagued by crime,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Division Jeffrey C. Boshek II. “I am confident the immediate impact is positive, and look forward to realizing the results of strategies beyond crime reduction. ATF remains committed to Project Safe Neighborhoods, the public, schools and businesses we serve through civic events, social media and crime prevention efforts designed to keep communities safe and thriving.”
“The U.S. Marshals Service, along with our federal, state, and local partners, is committed to the reduction of crime in our local neighborhoods,” said U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Texas Richard Taylor. “While the USMS remains dedicated to locating and apprehending the most violent offenders, this partnership presents the opportunity to reach out to the community to help prevent crime.”
“Project Safe Neighborhoods is a proven program with demonstrated results,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “I have empowered our United States Attorneys to focus enforcement efforts against the most violent criminals in their districts, and directed that they work together with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and community partners to develop tailored solutions to the unique violent crime problems they face.”