The violent crime spike experienced in Dallas in 2019 appeared to be random. However, a new study reveals it follows patterns and was linked to apartment complexes, used-goods stores, gas stations, and car washes.
The study by Child Poverty Action Lab found the incidence of violent crimes to be higher around certain places. However, it also highlighted a difference between north and south Dallas.
A detailed look at North Dallas pointed to high levels of violent offending around used-goods stores, car washes, and apartment complexes. In southeast Dallas, a concentration of motels, gas stations, and pharmacies emerged as major crime hubs.
Child Poverty Action Lab is a Dallas-based nonprofit focused on improving the lives of kids in the city. The Dallas Morning News reported the data was collected from risk terrain modeling, a new type of police predictive technology.
The report noted this new approach to crime modeling focuses on places, rather than people.
Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall’s approach to crime-fighting in the city relies on data and intensifying the department’s existing programs. Adopting risk terrain modeling, which includes a partnership with the lab, is one of the starkest departures from the Dallas Police Department’s past.
Homicides hit a 10-year high in Dallas last year. Dallas had more than 200 murders in 2019. The total of 210 was a 10-year high,
Alan Cohen, CEO of the Child Poverty Action Lab, believes risk terrain modeling will give police and the community better information to stop crime without law enforcement arresting more people, a key goal for his nonprofit. Cohen described it as a “tool of empowerment.”
He told the Dallas Morning News the data alone will not be enough. The model only works if police, other agencies, and community leaders work together to understand the information and make structural changes in city neighborhoods. Cohen said the risk terrain model and its data will be public. He explained hotspots show where crime is clustering. Risk terrain modeling identifies why violent crime is happening over and over in certain places. He said:
“The analysis picks up patterns and places where the most crime occurs. It goes beyond identifying specific bars, carwashes or payday lenders as locations where crime may happen. Instead, the model zeroes in on immediate surroundings, such as liquor stores close to bus stops and derelict buildings.”
Police usually respond by increasing patrols in places that experience the highest levels of violent crime.
Joel Caplan, one of the Rutgers University researchers behind risk terrain modeling, said it differs from hotspot policing. It looks at wider factors in places with higher concentrations of violent crime.
Over 30 states and 45 countries have used risk terrain modeling. The underlying equations and science behind the model have been peer-reviewed and studied in 40 different journals, Caplan said.
Police take violent crime seriously in Dallas, particularly on the back of a 10-year high in homicides. If you or a family member has been charged with a violent crime in Dallas, please talk to our veteran criminal defense team. We have represented people charged with the most serious violent crimes on the statute books in the state. Call us at (214) 720-9552.