City Council member Paul Ridley speaks to a crowd of District 2 and District 14 residents at Samuell-Grand Recreation Center on June 13, 2022. Photo by Renee Umsted.

The message from the Dallas Police Department to East Dallas residents was clear: report crimes.

Police Chief Eddie Garcia, neighborhood patrol officers, members of the office of community affairs and the gang unit as well as other staff members spoke with District 2 and District 14 residents at a public safety meeting held June 13 at Samuell-Grand Recreation Center.

District 14 Council member Paul Ridley, District 2 Council member Jesse Moreno and District 6 Council member Omar Narvaez were also in attendance.

“DPD is the essential crime fighter in Dallas, but they can’t work in a vacuum. They work in partnership with our residents,” Ridley said. “You should not underplay the role that you play.”

The meeting came after the fatal shooting of 14-year-old J.L. Long student Jordan Perez, who was shot earlier in June at the Old East Dallas Work Yard Park. A 19-year-old was also shot but was taken to a hospital and was in stable condition.

Perez’s great uncle came to the meeting and said though he doesn’t live in Dallas County anymore, he grew up in Old East Dallas. He said he wanted to acknowledge and accept responsibility for any “failures and shortcomings” within his family but also called on people to report crimes when they happen.

“The silence of the street — it’s killing us. It’s hurting us,” he said.

As of the meeting, the police have recorded 26 more incidents of non-family violence as compared to this time last year in District 14. Property crimes in the district are up 10% as compared to last year, Deputy Chief Israel Herrera said.

Some meeting attendees said they had witnessed crimes and didn’t report them because in the past, they haven’t seen the police responding in the way they should.

Garcia said by reporting crimes, it gives officers an opportunity to investigate thoroughly and help take criminals off the streets.

Deputy Chief Reuben Ramirez said officers rely on neighborhood tips and follow-ups to complete investigations. If there’s something out of place or something that “makes the hair stand on the back of your neck,” residents should report those things.

Junius Heights resident Barbara Cohen asked about what community members can do to help the police. In response, officers listed programs to get involved in, such as the Citizen’s Police Academy and Volunteers in Patrol.

One opportunity available to all Dallas teens this summer is a free pass to gain access to the city’s cultural centers, a handful of museums, recreation centers, the zoo and more attractions.

District 14 Park and Recreation Board member Rudy Karimi asked what the police department is doing to take a proactive approach to reduce crime. Citizens should report crimes when they happen, but at that point, “the damage is already done,” he said.

Garcia said officers can’t be on every block. Instead, they’re focusing on high-crime areas, and they have reduced violent crime in those areas.

He also said if citizens report crimes, the police can help stop future crimes from happening.

“This city could get let down if it weren’t for the amazing work of the men and women being proactive, making those investigative stops, talking to people thoroughly and vigorously investigating cases,” Garcia said.

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