Dallas keeps big-city crime title
The number of murders in Dallas last year fell to a 39-year low, but
the reduction is unlikely to change the city's status as the most
crime-ridden in the United States, in part because of how police
classify some crimes.
Rankings released in September based on 2005 data showed that Dallas
has the highest crime rate among large cities, with about one crime
reported for every 12 people. It's the eighth straight year Dallas has
topped the high-crime list among cities with at least 1 million
The next round of rankings, based on 2006 data, likely won't come out
for about six months - once all cities have reported their final
statistics, said Dallas police Lt. Vernon Hale.
Although crime is down in Dallas, police say they would have to
report certain crimes differently to drop in the rankings.
For example, unlike Dallas police, officers in New York City and Los
Angeles require people to sign sworn affidavits when reporting stolen
cars to cut down on insurance fraud. Dallas police also continue to
classify property that might have been lost as stolen property, even
when they are uncertain of its fate, thereby inflating crime statistics.
Despite Dallas' reputation, there was significant progress made in
2006, police Chief David Kunkle said. There were 187 murders in Dallas
in 2006, the fewest since 1967, when there were 133. That represents a
5.6 percent decrease from 2005, when there were 198 murders, according
to Dallas Police Department statistics released this week.
This is the second straight year in which murders have decreased. In
2004, there were 248 murders. The worst year for murders in the past 40
was 1991, when there were 500.
The reduction in homicides for two straight years makes Dallas unique
among major cities, Kunkle said.
"We're very pleased," he said. "The growing trend nationally is an
increase in homicides. Most of the cities you see with reductions this
year didn't have reductions last year." Total crime, violent crime and
nonviolent crime also dropped, police said. Overall crime fell nearly 3
The modest gains are a result of police efforts to identify crime hot
spots and improve the department's relationship with Dallas residents,
Still, certain types of crime increased in 2006. The number of
reported rapes increased from 2005 by nearly 22 percent to 685. But the
562 reported rapes in 2005 was the lowest since 1975, making an increase
this year appear dramatically larger, said Sgt. Patrick Welsh of the
police sex assaults unit. Police statistics also show a 6.5 percent
increase in business robbery and a 3.3 percent increase in business
The city is safer than in past years, Kunkle said, even though the
department did not meet his goals of reducing murders and overall crime
by 10 percent.