Criminal JusticeElections 2022IssuesLocal NewsTaxes & SpendingDallas District Attorney Touts Prosecution Strategy as City Experiences Declining Crime Rate

Dallas County voters elected Democrat John Creuzot in 2018. Since then, he has focused on prosecuting fewer lower-level offenses.
February 15, 2022
As Dallas Police Department (DPD) Chief Eddie Garcia credits his crime reduction plan and the efforts of police officers, Dallas County Criminal District Attorney John Creuzot is also highlighting a prosecution strategy that could be contributing to Dallas’ decreasing crime rate.

Unlike other major cities in Texas, there was a 13 percent drop in the number of homicides in Dallas last year and notable decreases in other crime categories. Garcia partially ascribed it to a crime reduction plan he implemented last May.

Garcia reported in January that murders have dropped 27 percent since the plan was launched, in addition to a 28 percent drop in robberies and a 6.5 percent drop in aggravated assaults. The police chief said crime has dropped 13 percent overall.

In an interview with The Texan, Creuzot, a Democrat who was first elected in 2018, characterized his approach to criminal prosecutions as “data-oriented” and highlighted his cooperation with Garcia.

Creuzot implemented a policy that his office would not prosecute the majority of first-offense possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, which is a misdemeanor in Texas. He indicated that 97 percent of the marijuana cases fell within this category, which ate up officers’ time booking people into jail and had a racially disproportionate impact.

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“I saw it as twofold. Number one, race and geography. Number two, you can’t fight violent crime by pulling people over for traffic violations looking for marijuana,” the district attorney contended.

Creuzot said that Garcia instituted a similar policy that officers would not arrest individuals for possessing less than two ounces of marijuana. The police chief did so from the angle that officers are unable to respond to 911 calls while preoccupied with searching vehicles for marijuana.

“I think my policy and philosophy and his policy and philosophy, though not completely congruent, operate enough together that we got the job done,” Creuzot said.

Another measure is the district attorney’s theft policy, one that has been criticized by Creuzot’s predecessor, Republican Faith Johnson, who has no primary opponent and is seeking to unseat the district attorney in this year’s general election.

Thefts of items worth less than $750 are not prosecuted in Dallas County unless there is evidence that the property was stolen for “economic gain.” The policy went into effect in April 2019 and was designed to avoid “criminalizing poverty.”

“Judge Johnson tells stories about things. For example, she tells the story that the theft policy has caused fear and created more crime in the community,” Creuzot said when asked about his opponents.

He added, “Had she been paying attention when she was here to numbers instead of telling stories, she would have noticed that every category of crime for the last five or six years has gone down consistently every year.”

Creuzot faces one Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Frizell, who lost to Creuzot in the 2018 primary and has also been critical of the theft policy.

In November 2019, Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Johnson to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, where she currently serves.

Johnson and Frizell did not respond to The Texan’s requests for interviews.

Creuzot has also declined to prosecute misdemeanor criminal trespass unless it involves a residence or a “physical intrusion into property.”

The Democrat said the “initial response was extremely negative and fearful,” but asserted that it makes little sense to repeatedly arrest the same people for criminal trespass violations without providing help.

“We’ve also engaged in a multimillion-dollar effort and a multiyear effort now to soon open a facility that the police have as an option to take in those folks there where they can get access to services including medicine, psychiatric services, social services, and case management,” Creuzot said.

Meanwhile, Garcia has prioritized enforcement in high-crime areas and has focused on improving officer morale amid numerous challenges DPD has faced in recent years, including tornadoes in 2019, clamoring to defund the department, the protests and riots after George Floyd’s murder, and the rocky exit of former Chief Renee Hall.

Though Creuzot has not hesitated to prosecute alleged instances of police misconduct, he stated in his interview that “most officers do not relate to criminal conduct by their peers.”

On Wednesday, he announced multiple first-degree aggravated assault charges against a DPD senior corporal, Ryan Mabry, and another former senior corporal, Melvin Williams. He accused each of them of assaulting multiple people with less than lethal rounds of ammunition during the 2020 unrest in downtown Dallas.

The charges are in the early stages of the process. Mabry and Williams have not been indicted by a grand jury.

For his part, Mayor Eric Johnson has been a proponent of the police and has fought efforts to cut their funding.

Garcia and Johnson also worked together to limit the operating hours of sexually-oriented businesses. The city council voted unanimously last month to prohibit such businesses from being open between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. In addition, employees may not be younger than 21 years of age, per a recently enacted state law.

A copy of a biennial report published by the district attorney’s office can be found below.



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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."