- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

DALLAS (AP) - Dallas is dealing with a surge in violent crime this year that has reversed a decade-long decrease in killings and prompted friction between the city’s police chief and rank-and-file officers on how to combat the issue.

Dallas police reported this week a 75 percent jump in the number of homicides over the same period last year, according to the Dallas Morning News. The increase has prompted a broad debate on how best to allocate the department’s officers and has caught the attention of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has offered unspecified state resources to help.

Police Chief David Brown has suggested several potential factors in the spike in violence, from fewer officers to an unusually mild winter.

“There’s a seasonal connection to crime,” Brown said Monday, according to the newspaper. “When it’s warm, like the summer months, people are in the entertainment districts, they walk around more outside, they’re at the parks, they’re on the trails, they’re likely to be out much later.”

The rise in killings includes at least 17 so far this month; there were five killings last March. The number of aggravated assaults and robberies also are up.

Brown told a City Council committee Monday hundreds of Dallas officers would be reassigned to target high-crime neighborhoods and bulk up staffing on a 4 p.m. to midnight shift - a time when police commanders say a majority of violent crime occurs. Others would be placed on task forces concentrating on areas such as serving domestic violence warrants, Brown said, and more officers, including top commanders, would be assigned to foot patrols.

But officers complained the changes would disrupt their personal lives, and at least one police union called on Brown to resign. Three of the other leading police unions also complained about the sweeping changes.

Brown and City Manager A.C. Gonzalez released a joint statement Tuesday saying Brown “has heard his officers’ concerns.” The plan presented Monday to the council panel “was not sustainable over a long period of time and it would put a tremendous strain on our police force,” Brown said.

Instead, Brown is calling for a “study on staffing models, internal communications, response times and best practices,” and promised it will include feedback from many on a force that has more than 3,500 officers.

The rising number of killings reverses a 10-year trend. For the 10-year period ending in 2014, Dallas police reported a 49 percent drop in killings.

Violent crime is also up in other major U.S. cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston, where killings rose from 241 in 2014 to 303 last year.

Brown and Gonzalez did not specify which state resources would be provided, and a spokesman for the governor referred questions to the Texas Department of Public Safety. A spokesman for DPS was not immediately available for comment. The chief and the city manager declined to comment beyond their statement.

The four leading city police unions had balked at Brown’s efforts announced Monday, with the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas calling on Brown to resign.

“The current atmosphere within the Dallas Police Department is one of vengeance, distrust, retaliation and failure to employ the most prudent use of manpower,” association President Thomas Glover Sr. wrote to the council. “We believe that as a professional organization of police officers, that this has severely crippled the ability to best fight crime.”

Dallas officials are calling on Brown for long-term solutions rather than a Band-Aid approach.

“In the last six to eight months, I’m only hearing excuses,” council member Adam McGough told Brown, according to the newspaper. “I’m only hearing the issues and the problems we’re facing.”

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