Group’s longevity, cooperative spirit impress police officials
The Dallas Police Department named Oak Lawn Apartment Managers and Stakeholders as the Crime Watch Group of the Year for 2007 at an awards dinner at the Frontiers of Flight Museum on Sept. 11.
The Oak Lawn group, which is one of more than 100 crime watch groups operating in Dallas, was nominated for the award by Sgt. Keith Allen, interactive police officer for the Oak Lawn community who works in the Central Patrol Division. The police department gives the award annually, and it is the first time for the two-decade-old Oak Lawn group to receive the award, he said.
Allen said he nominated the Oak Lawn group for the award in part because of their longevity and inclusiveness as regards residents of single- and multifamily homes and businesses. The group’s regular monthly meetings at a central location the Oak Lawn Branch of the Dallas Public Library makes them accessible to all of the community’s residents, he noted.
“They do such a great job of communication as far as keeping everyone informed,” Allen said.
Allen said that even if a resident does not attend the crime watch meetings, follow-up e-mails from the group’s coordinator keep them informed about who was there and what was discussed. There are also advance e-mails about who will be making presentations on what topics.
The Oak Lawn group presents an impressive lineup of speakers on diverse topics such as drug and alcohol abuse prevention, homeless assistance, National Night Out Events, alarm installation, video surveillance and child safety seat programs, Allen said. The group also supports charitable groups such as the Friends of the Library and disadvantaged children of Sam Houston Elementary School, he noted.
The Oak Lawn group has also made its membership available to work with police officers on mutual concerns.
“All of that has different levels of importance, but when you combine all of that I don’t think there is any doubt they were the most deserving,” Allen said. “I think it has been the most effective crime watch group in the City of Dallas without question.”
P.D. Sterling, the coordinator of the Oak Lawn group and the author of the e-mail blast that informs residents about community issues, said the award validates his views of the role of a crime watch group.
“Getting together with a certain number of police officers and bitching about what they are not doing is not fruitful,” Sterling said. “Instead, we identify problems, resolutions and formulate timelines. That works. Also, being persistent, if the problem resolution timeline doesn’t work.”
Sterling said the Oak Lawn group is effective because of its “network of concerned neighbors who call each other to make issues known and network to get resolutions.”
The Oak Lawn group meets the third Wednesday of every month at the Oak Lawn Branch of the Dallas Public Library, 4100 Cedar Springs Road at noon. Lunch is typically sponsored by a local business.
For information visit dallascrimewatch.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 5, 2007