Everyone Needs To Get Involved
DESOTO – DeSoto Police Department Chaplain and Community Church Pastor Oscar Epps from Community Church opened Thursday’s DeSoto Public Safety Town Hall and reiterated “We have a great city, and we can continue to have a great city.”
Epps said it involves the unification of the community and everyone getting involved.
“Take our blinders off and partner with our Police Department,” Epps said with DeSoto Police Chief Joe Costa adding the theme for the Town Hall meeting was “An Honest Conversation with the Citizens of DeSoto” and how you can help.
DeSoto Mayor Rachel Proctor said “Public Safety is the most focal point in a community. We have to be able to come together.”
Proctor also told the audience that in the future, there would be an increase in the frequency of Public Safety Town Hall meetings so residents would continue to feel more comfortable working together.
As well, DeSoto City Manager Brandon Wright reminded everyone that “The community needs the Police Department and the Police Department needs the community,” also giving accolades to Chief Costa “he is the picture of what a good police chief does.”
Homicides in DeSoto Are Up, Violent Crimes Are Down
Chief Costa opened the meeting with statistics and said that while homicides are up in the City of DeSoto by 100%, violent crimes are down. He also noted in Cedar Hill it is the opposite; Cedar Hill has had an increase in violent crimes and a decrease in homicide.
In Group A crimes it was up 5.7% in 2021, with the highest being in 2017 at 2427 and, while not that high last year at 1,725, the year prior was 1,627.
Regarding family violence that crime is one percent down from 2020.
Burglary of habitation has gone down in DeSoto quite a bit with 2016 being at 402 and in 2021 it was at 116.
The response time for the DeSoto Police Department is 5.9 minutes to get to a call, but Costa said with a high priority call the response time is “under two minutes and that is huge.”
Overall, in 2021 there were 75,584 calls for service including 911 and non-emergency – that was up from 2020 at 65,365 calls.
DeSoto Police Department Goals
DeSoto Police Department goals, according to Costa, include virtual reality training. “The program puts them in a reality situation, and they have to make decisions – I took it, and it was really good.”
Other goals include the reduction of overall crime by 10%, reduction of property crime by 20% and reduction of domestic violence by 10%.
There was also a grant awarded several days ago to the DeSoto PD for a new K9. The city does not currently have a K9, and Costa said next steps are picking an officer and outfitting a vehicle. “That is coming this year,” Costa said.
Costa also mentioned the gun buyback program and its success. He said two historical guns were donated to a police museum in Waco “the program was a success,” he said.
There will also be the addition of a ballistic software program. The program is used to detect if guns being used in crimes in DeSoto are a match to other known crimes around the area.
The expansion of the city’s Regional CARE team for mental health calls was also discussed. Costa spoke about the importance of its ongoing success.
Additional Police Department statistics
The Tri-City jail in Desoto processed 4,051 arrestees last year compared to 3,139 in 2020. The jail is also used by the cities of Cedar Hill, Duncanville, Lancaster, and Glenn Heights.
Costa said the goal is to get the suspect out as soon as possible. Fortunately, the Police Department has their own transport team to make that happen.
The DeSoto PD also played a large part in the success of the Ellis Davis Testing/Vaccine Site. The site launched in March 2020 and was not closed until several months ago in November 2021. The center gave out 80,000 vaccines and 130,000 tests during that time. The DeSoto Police Department managed both traffic and security for the facility.
Homicides in DeSoto
There were six homicides in 2021 in DeSoto and each were solved within days of the occurrence. Four had firearms used, one crime was with a knife and another a vehicle.
“Best thing is each one was solved in few days of occurrence, less than a week,” Costa said. “Two of the offenses were out of state; one in Arizona and one in Utah and I think that is huge and we have a 44% clearance rate.”
Costa added too. “We work together as a team with CID and Patrol officers – they are good investigators, and we bring these cases to closure quickly.”
Costa also mentioned the April 8, 2021, shooting in Zeiger Park. There were adults gathered at the park in the evening, when one subject drew a handgun and opened fire on an individual in the park. The subject fled in a dark SUV. Then, another subject in the park opened fire at the SUV as it was leaving the park. There were no injuries. However, even with around 40 people watching, no person came forward about the crime.
“We need everyone to work with us, we need to work together,” Costa reminded.
Guest speaker Randolph Shaheed
His message “Save your community.”
Shaheed spoke last before the questions and answers. He spoke about the importance of looking at the leadership in the city. Talking about how the men in the community coming forward to take on that leadership role. Shaheed, once a gang member and having been incarcerated, knows the streets. He made a passionate plea to those in DeSoto to take the role of saving the lives of their children.
“If you want to save your community, when are you going to show the power that God has and not the mouth that you have got – and you are not even using your mouth properly,” Shaheed said.
“It takes everyone” both Costa and Shaheed stressed with an emphasis on the importance of everyone taking responsibility together.