On April 30, 2022, Spectrum News reported that 25-year-old Zarea Dixon called police to the Spring Ridge II Apartments in Oak Cliff on February 24 after her ex-boyfriend, Tahj Pinson, broke into her home. The man allegedly killed her after that phone call was placed, but it took police over 75 minutes to respond.
Dixon was born deaf and used a translator service to call 911 just before 3 p.m. Her emergency call was labeled as a Priority 2 response, calls which the Dallas Police Department (DPD) said have averaged about 44 minutes so far this year, although the department’s goal is to be under 12 minutes.
The department also said that all of their available patrol units were responding to other calls on February 24 when Dixon’s plea came in. After calling for help, Dixon texted her mother saying the police were on their way, but they found Dixon deceased with bruises all over her face and neck when they ultimately arrived.
Pinson was arrested and charged with murder for Dixon’s death. A few weeks before that story was published, NBC News reported that police recruits in Dallas were now receiving special training in handling domestic violence incidents.
Because aggravated assaults increased over the past year, the DPD was adding detectives to work closely with local advocates and aid organizations to visit victims well after the initial call. The City of Dallas has a Domestic Violence Task Force, and the DPD has a Family Violence Unit.
The Domestic Violence Task Force was created in 1987 to create a collaborative environment for local law enforcement, city government, representatives of the criminal justice system, and intimate partner and family violence prevention organizations to address the problems of domestic violence. In March of 2020, Mayor Eric Johnson sought recommendations to pave the way for a 25 percent decrease in domestic violence aggravated assaults over the next three years.
The Family Violence Unit was also created in 1987, and it is a specialized investigative office designed to respond to the problem of domestic violence in the City of Dallas. The Unit is comprised of a sergeant, detectives, a crime analyst, and a civilian counselor.
According to NBC News, all police recruits in Dallas now receive special training in handling domestic violence incidents. DPD handles 15,000 domestic violence calls a year, according to the report.
NBC News reported that many incidents involve repeat offenders, and family-related aggravated assaults were up 7.6 percent from January to August of 2021. The DPD added detectives and started working more closely with local advocates.
On top of the issues unique to Dallas, domestic violence survivors nationwide are dealing with issues concerning their cell phone plans. Axios reported on February 17 that victims of domestic abuse did not currently have a guaranteed way to leave family plans with their phone lines on a federal level because many current cell phone contracts and fines keep the same people trapped in plans where abusers can access phone records or control services.
A bipartisan group of senators had announced that they had reached an agreement on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), but the Safe Connections Act, which is a bipartisan bill introduced in 2021 that would allow survivors of domestic abuse to separate their phone line from a family cellular plan and provide privacy protections for victims, was not included in VAWA’s reauthorization.
Safe Connections reportedly was not included in the package because the wireless industry trade group CTIA (formerly known as the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) emphasized that it still wanted certain changes. CTIA includes such members as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, and said it supported the bill while arguing its changes would make it easier for survivors to change phone plans.
CTIA lobbied to strike a provision giving the FCC authority to hold companies liable for breaking rules set out in the bill, and wanted to add a requirement that victims provide “account establishment information” to separate phone lines. Axios reported that CTIA spent $12.4 million on lobbying last year, in addition to $13.3 million spent by Verizon, $11.5 million by AT&T, and $9.6 million by T-Mobile.
CTIA told Axios that a domestic abuse survivor would only have to provide such “account establishment information” if the person was opting to keep their number and service with the same provider. The changes from CTIA, however, are viewed as a way for the wireless industry to retain the customer rather than let them go and could create an additional hurdle for a survivor.
In March 2022, President Biden signed the reauthorization of VAWA. A press release from the Department of Justice made no mention of the Safe Connections Act.
Domestic violence cases are not limited to Dallas. The Randall County District Attorney announced on May 24 that a man was sentenced to 12 years in prison after threatening his wife to drop charges in a domestic violence case.
Randall County is just south of Amarillo. Alex Uvalle, who had warrants for his arrest, was found guilty of tampering with a witness on May 18 after he threatened his wife to drop charges in an ongoing domestic violence case that was pending at the District Attorney’s Office.
The alleged victim went to the Randall County Justice Center and the District Attorney’s Office and Randall County Sheriff’s Office helped the woman and alerted law enforcement to be on the lookout for Uvalle. Uvalle was also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon but was ultimately acquitted of that charge.
Find a Dallas Family Violence Attorney | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
With Dallas placing an emphasis on family violence offenses, you can expect more arrests pertaining to domestic violence. You also need to keep in mind that when police officers in Dallas or any surrounding community respond to a family violence call, those visits often end with at least one person being placed under arrest.
Were you recently arrested for a crime of family violence in the greater Dallas area? Make sure you have a lawyer who handles these types of cases like The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy, where we have been defending individuals all over North Texas against all kinds of domestic violence charges for decades.
Our firm will take the time to sit down with you and help you understand all of your legal options. Get a full review of your case when you call (972) 233-5700 or contact us online for a free consultation.