Richardson says law enforcement officials called him soon after he went public with complaints
A Cedar Springs Road merchant who complained earlier this month about the presence of illegal activity on the street said he is pleased by the response of elected officials and law enforcement agencies.
“They’re on it and working with us again,” said Dave Richardson, owner of Tapelenders, Outlines Activewear and Skivvies.
Richardson sought help from City Council members Pauline Medrano and Angela Hunt, who represent the area where his stores are located.
Richardson complained about shoplifters targeting his stores and about the presence of drug users and dealers, prostitutes and panhandlers loitering on the street and committing multiple offenses.
If left alone, the undesirable criminal element would likely deter customers to the retail stores and nightclubs, he said.
Representatives of the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas County District Attorney called him after he went public with his complaints, Richardson said. The police officer promised undercover operations would be undertaken during the day and the early morning hours after the nightclubs close, he said.
The assistant district attorney promised a shoplifter who was arrested by police but reappeared on the street within days would be prosecuted, Richardson said.
“They are working to knock it down as close to zero as possible,” Richardson said.
While standing in his store discussing the prosecutor’s assurances, Richard spotted the alleged shoplifter walking on the sidewalk.
“There he goes now,” Richardson said. “He’s out there everyday.”
Richardson said he was told the West Village has a similar problem with loiterers, but the private security guards on patrol there curtail criminal activity.
“We don’t have that luxury,” Richardson said.
Medrano said she received Richardson’s correspondence seeking help with the crime problem and has contacted police officials.
“We will definitely work real closely with the chief,” Medrano said. “It is a concern and we’re going to address those issues.”
Hunt said she is also committed to finding solutions to the crime problems in Oak Lawn. Repeat offenders who are arrested but released by judges back on to the streets are committing much of it, she said.
“The challenge is to find ways to address it,” Hunt said. “If you talk with police you hear that their resources and options are limited.”
Hunt said the city’s planned new homeless center should help get homeless people who are panhandling off of the streets.
“That’s not the solution, but it’s part of the solution,” Hunt said.
Hunt said for now the best solution is to report criminal activity whenever it is observed.
“Anytime I see a panhandler in any part of our district or city, I call the police and report them,” Hunt said.
“I encourage our residents and our business owners to do the same thing because that’s all we’ve got as a tool,” Hunt said.
After reading about Richardson’s complaints, Precinct 5 Constable Mike Dupree said he instructed his officers to be more attentive to illegal activity in Oak Lawn.
Medrano, Hunt and Chief of Police David Kunkle will take part in an upcoming panel discussion on crime when the police department’s new liaison to the GLBT community is introduced at a town hall meeting in February.
Kunkle recently appointed patrol officer Laura Martin, of the Central Division’s substation, to be liaison to the GLBT community. She replaced Sgt. Lynne Albright, who retired from the force last August after serving in the position for 12 years.
Martin said her duties are still being defined, but they would include addressing illegal activity in the Oak Lawn entertainment district. She will be introduced by Kunkle, Medrano and Hunt to the GLBT community at a town hall meeting at the John Thomas Gay and Lesbian Community Center on Feb. 16 at 6 p.m.
Martin said she encourages members of the GLBT community to contact her when they observe criminal activity that they are unwilling to report to the 911 service.
To contact Martin through the community center, call 214-540-4470 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of January 27, 2006.
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