The crime statistics won't be out until next week, but they're expected to show that Dallas was a safer city in 2008 with a 10% drop in violent and property crimes. The question is are cops doing a better job?
Dallas Police officials would like to take some credit for the crime reduction. They are putting more officers on the street. Also, they're making officers more accountable for finding ways to prevent crime in the area's they're assigned to. We saw that in action today.
Officer Chris Thomas has spotted a man drinking in public. For that, the man gets a ticket. It's one of many Thomas and Senior Corporal LaCrondia Ellis issued today.
"I'm gonna run over to Pueblo; I thought I saw a car parked over there."
The officers patrol an area of west Dallas known as Lake West. Lake West has struggled for years with drugs, car thefts, and violence. No one knows that better than Officer Thomas.
"Mmmm Miss Flynn."
He's been patrolling these streets since 1993, so he knows the usual suspects.
"I know what some of them are capable of, the things that they will or won't do; and if somebody's taking off and running, I have a general idea where they're going," Thomas said.
Thomas is headed to McBroom Street, a street known for drug activity. The officers try to discourage people from coming here by enforcing every law and making no apologies for it.
"Nope. You can stay right there. Where's her can? She didn't have none? Oh, it was all yours?"
Thomas said, "When you can't go outside without watching a drug transaction or watching somebody get beat up in front of your door, or come outside and find blood on your steps, that's not good. Everybody out here don't deserve that. Nobody deserves that."
"They're my friends," said Lake West resident Mollie Fletcher. Fletcher said she believes the crime rate is going down in her community, but says drug dealers and users are still hanging out in open fields.
The officers stopped one man as he was headed to one such field. He admitted he has a drug problem and today he was caught with drug paraphernalia. The officers will remember his face.
"It goes back to old time beat responsibility; you're in an area, you take care of that area," Thomas said.
And that area, Lake West, saw a 15% drop in crime last year. The entire city of Dallas saw a 15 percent drop in the number of murders.
We'll hear much more about these crimes stats next week.