As you know, we hosted a Downtown Public Safety Meeting in January following a series of incidents that heightened concerns about public safety in our community. Coming out of that meeting, we facilitated crafting a Community Action Plan, summarizing the top priorities from residents, businesses owners, and additional stakeholders. We also held a follow-up meeting on February 15th, where the Dallas Police Department (DPD) announced they had caught and arrested the perpetrators from the Davis Building incident, as well as implemented a panhandling initiative aimed at aggressive and repeat quality of life offenders.
1. Residential Property Safety Audits: Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) will reach out to residential property managers over the next 45 days to offer coordination assistance to conduct DPD-led safety audits of their buildings, including parking garages. This will include an emergency access plan for police and fire and recommendations from DPD to improve personal safety of residents.
STATUS: COMPLETE – DDI has reached out to every residential property in the CBD and successfully facilitated completion of the safety audits for 24 residential properties. Safety audit updates and crime watch meetings are scheduled with residential property managers throughout the year.
2. Ongoing Community Collaboration: DDI will coordinate quarterly meetings (more often as needed) to serve as a forum for public safety collaboration. Additional invitees to add to the base of residents at the first meeting will include: DART; The Bridge; Oncor; property owners, managers, and security directors; merchant businesses; and other concerned employers.
STATUS: This process is ongoing. DDI currently provides public safety/crime updates at monthly stakeholder meetings for the Downtown Residents Council (DRC), Downtown Security Directors Association (DSDA), West End Association, Farmers Market Stakeholders, and multiple crime watch meetings. DDI/Downtown Safety Patrol (DSP) has a standing offer to attend and present at any and all resident, neighborhood association, and HOA meetings.
And thanks to Councilmember Adam Medrano, there is now a monthly Crime Watch meeting being held with all relevant parties on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. DDI actively helps promote the monthly Crime Watch meetings to residents and stakeholders.
3. DART and DPD Communication: Several concerns over the communication between DART and DPD were expressed, including statistical reporting and call response.
STATUS: DDI convened a meeting with DART and DPD in Q1 to facilitate identifying and solving these issues. While statistical reporting continues to be a challenge, a monthly task force meeting has been established that includes DPD, DART Police, DISD Police, El Centro Police, and DSP to facilitate a coordinated effort to address public safety issues Downtown including: K2 use and K2 dealers, aggressive panhandling, and other Quality of Life (QOL) ordinance violations.
“A Real Success Story” (March vs. May 2016) – Greyhound
Other ongoing Initiatives include:
Top 10 Panhandler initiative
Quality of Life Task Force – West End/Lamar Corridor
Impact Offender initiative
Additionally, a partnership has been implemented between the DPD, County Jail, District Attorney, and Criminal Courts to: identify, hold on high bond, prosecute, and issue maximum sentences to remove career criminals from Downtown. In the past, low bonds and plea bargains put career criminals back Downtown within 24 hours. The impact offender list ensures career criminals are held on high bond and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law (no plea bargains).
4. Neighborhood Crime Watch: DDI will host a series of workshops led by the DPD to offer Downtown-area neighborhood groups, building associations, and the overall community the opportunity to develop and establish a neighborhood crime watch program, building off of the success of the established Farmers Market Crime Watch.
STATUS: Again, we are grateful to Councilmember Medrano for his leadership to establish the monthly CBD Neighborhood Crime Watch.
5. Lighting and Sidewalks: Though significant progress has been made to improve lighting and walkability, dark spots and broken sidewalks still exist in Downtown. Short term, DDI will work with residents to identify “quick win” projects that can be implemented swiftly with available resources. DDI will also engage Oncor in the conversation. Longer term, the Greater Downtown Dallas 360 plan is addressing many of these infrastructure issues to assist in setting priorities for future bond funds.
• DSP officers check all Downtown street lights twice per month to note and report any light outages to private owners, Oncor, and City of Dallas. Most outages are fixed within 36 hours.
• DDI has funded an engineering firm to evaluate and map sidewalk conditions for every sidewalk and crosswalk in the CBD. This report should be complete in Q3.
• DDI will have initial design concepts for 8-10 new quick win projects to present for feedback by mid-summer.
• DDI has funded the design and has designated funds to complete the sidewalk on Main Street to connect Main Street District and Deep Ellum. DDI is also exploring ways to partner with Deep Ellum Foundation to incorporate additional lighting under 345. We are awaiting the approvals and/or additional information from TXDOT and City of Dallas on both projects.
6. Merchant Safety Seminars: DPD is visiting with Downtown merchant businesses to provide safety tips for employees, as well as security audits of their establishments. Contact us if you have interest in this program and we will connect you with DPD coordinators.
STATUS: Ongoing. DPD and DSP regularly check in with businesses to offer safety audits and meetings. DSP and DPD have reached out to all businesses in the CBD offering to conduct safety audits and meetings.
7. Reinvigorate No Panhandling Campaign: DDI will reinvigorate its panhandling awareness campaign that is aimed at educating the public as to better ways to give, as well as the no panhandling law. Businesses may request the DDI No Panhandling posters by emailing email@example.com.
STATUS: DDI has distributed over 250 ‘No Panhandling’ posters to businesses and residents since January. The more permanent orange and white no panhandling signs can be ordered directly from Fast Signs (for a nominal fee). Remember to call 911 on panhandlers, especially if aggressive. You can also call DSP at 214.741.1151 who can assist by calling our off-duty officer for assistance in removing/arresting the panhandler. DPD has made 366 panhandling arrests since January.
8. Lasting Solutions to Address Panhandling, Vagrancy, and Homelessness: These are three distinct issues that require a comprehensive approach including regulation, enforcement, and social services. DDI encourages public policy leaders, related agencies, social service providers, and the community to refocus on solution-based planning that looks at the entire city as a whole, understanding the impact of concentration in Downtown.
STATUS: Ongoing. The DSP and DPD Crisis Intervention Team visit small homeless encampments around the perimeter of Downtown on Tuesday and Thursdays. Homeless individuals are identified and offered transportation to shelters for services. Bus tickets home are offered to homeless meeting reunification guidelines; approximately 150 homeless are reunited with family through this program each year.
Mayor Mike Rawlings has assembled a Commission on Homelessness to address the issue from a broad, holistic perspective. With the community, DDI will continue to monitor and engage in the process.
Thanks to research from the Downtown Dallas Neighborhood Association (DDNA), possible opportunities to create an extradition program have been identified. DDI is researching the legality, process, and resources for implementation. Stay tuned for updates at the next Crime Watch meeting.
Also working with the DDNA, DDI has advocated for the continued presence of DPD’s mounted units, which are still deployed in Downtown and making a significant impact!
DDI will fund a homeless encampment cleanup project for a 60-day period (bi-weekly cleanup visits). DPD Crisis Intervention Team member Winford Cross has identified approximately eight small homeless encampments around the perimeter of Downtown Dallas. DSP Sergeant Barry Dyson will monitor the cleanup project with “before and after photos.”
We thank you for taking an active role in making sure our Downtown is safe and inviting for all! We’re all in this together and appreciate your feedback.
Downtown Dallas, Inc. Team