Dallas police chiefs have been accused in the past of downplaying the extent of gang activity in the city.
However, the interim Police Chief David Pughes appears to have broken ranks by publicly acknowledging that gang activity is driving up violent crime in the city, reported WFAA.
Violent crime is up just over four percent year-on-year in Dallas, but that statistic masks some massive increases.
Pughes told council members his department saw a 148 percent increase in drive-by shootings from 49 to date last year to 122 so far this year.
He blamed the city’s gang problem for the rise. WFAA referred to an incident on May 14 when an innocent bystander was killed in the crossfire in South Dallas. Police sources told the station, the incident was gang related.
A gathering to remember two gang members in March ended in a gun battle that injured two. A woman lost her life after the wrong apartment was fire bombed last year.
During the meeting, Pughes highlighted three specific gangs: The Ben Frank Gang, 44OG and 65 Groveside.
WFAA has highlighted the comments of former Dallas Officer Wes Melton who claimed the Dallas Police Department has downplayed the extent of the problem.
In 2016 before he left the police department, Melton carried out a study that showed as many as 40 percent of the city’s murders involved people linked to gangs, either as suspects or victims. He wanted to convince the department to beef up its small gang unit.
“I don’t know what changed their mind, but I can tell you it’s a good thing for the community,” he told the TV station.
After Melton completed his project, commanders looked at his findings. They told him there was no need for him to continue documenting the connections between gang membership and violent crimes like murders.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has warned gangs constitute a public safety threat in Texas and are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime.
If you are accused of gang activities in Texas, you are likely to face a higher sentence. Often gang investigations are carried out by federal and state investigators in joint operations. Our Dallas criminal defense lawyer have decades of experience in defending people charged with federal crimes. Read more here on our website.