Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, police Chief Eddie Garcia and other city officials kicked off the second annual Summer of Safety campaign at the Vickery Park Branch Library in Lake Highlands on May 16.

The campaign is meant to keep children and youth safe and engaged by involving them in fun, positive activities while they’re out of school for the summer, Johnson said during the event.

The context: Johnson noted Dallas’ success as a major city reducing violent crime for two years straight. Last summer, Dallas lowered the rate of violent crime in June and July, which Johnson described as an “amazing feat” given that crime typically increases during the summer in major cities. Violent crime rates increase by about 5.7% when temperatures rise above 85 degrees, according to research from the University of Southern California.

The reduction came partly as a result of campaigns such as Summer of Safety, Johnson said. He added public safety continues to be his “No. 1 priority,” and his goal is to make Dallas the “safest large city in the nation.”

During the event, Garcia admitted the recent ransomware attack on the city’s network is “severely impacting” how the Dallas Police Department is able to manage safety in the city. While many systems including data management are still down after the attack, the department is receiving 911 calls, he said. In a May 15 news release, city officials said it will “likely take weeks” to get the network and city services back to full functionality.

Notable quote: “With so many free- and reduced-cost activities offered by the city of Dallas, there is literally no excuse—none—for any child in the city to sit idle at home or expose [themself] to potential criminal activity on our streets this summer,” Johnson said.

Johnson addressed third- and sixth-graders from Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary School during the event, but he also called on Dallas parents and community leaders to “play a more active role” in monitoring their children’s safety and involve them in summer activities.

Items worth mentioning: Officials highlighted the city’s range of summer programming opportunities, including:
  • More than 300 Dallas Public Library programs
  • 54 summer camps at city recreation centers
  • 10 family aquatic centers
  • 10 community swimming pools
  • 17 spray grounds
Other opportunities include the Mayor’s Youth Ticket Program, which allows Dallas residents ages 12-17 to receive a free ticket to a professional, collegiate or amateur sporting event in the area.

Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said the school district will offer free, full-day summer camps featuring a range of activities, including chess, sports and Spanish immersion.

For more information, visit the city of Dallas website.