Oak Lawn to get nighttime crime watch meetings, but citizen patrol hype hasn’t exactly panned out

Posted on 28 Jul 2010 at 12:17pm
DPD Deputy Chief Malik Aziz, left, and Chief David Brown are shown during a recent forum at Sue Ellens.

Back on Monday we shared some results from a survey of Oak Lawn business owners that was conducted by the Dallas Police Department.

On Tuesday we spoke with DPD Deputy Chief Malik Aziz about the survey results. Aziz is over the department’s Northwest Division, which includes most of Oak Lawn.

Aziz said a total 127 businesses responded to the survey, conducted in mid-July in the area bounded by Oak Lawn, Lemmon, Wycliff and Maple avenues.

The survey area also happens to be the heart of DPD’s Cedar Springs Wycliff Target Area Action Grid, which recorded the fourth-most violent offenses of any of the city’s 26 TAAGs in 2009.

As we pointed out a few weeks ago, crime is down significantly in the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG in 2010.

Aziz told us he was generally pleased with the survey results.

“We want to get to our core constituency and see where they’re at so we can better serve them,” Aziz said. “To me the overall survey and the overall response said that we’re doing things ‘good’ to ‘excellent,’ but there’s always room for improvement.”

One likely change in response to the survey will be the addition of evening crime watch meetings in the area, Aziz said. Currently the Oak Lawn Apartment Managers and Stakeholders Crime Watch Group meets once a month at noon.

But Aziz said many business owners can’t make this meeting because they’re busy with the lunch rush. Oak Lawn residents who work outside the area would also be more likely to attend an evening meeting.

According to the survey results, only 16 percent of business owners said they attend crime watch meetings. However, 72 percent said they’d be interested in attending crime watch meetings.

“We’ve got a great working relationship. Now we need to get everybody involved in crime prevention,” Aziz said. “That’s how you make a neighborhoods safe.”

Asked about a survey result which showed that nearly one-third of business owners don’t feel safe in the area at night, Aziz suggested that some of those people likely live elsewhere and go home at 5 p.m. He also said that from the department’s perspective, 70 percent is a passing score.

“That’s not uncommon in any neighborhood that when the lights go out, people don’t feel as safe,” Aziz said. “But it tells us we need more visibility out there at night.”

Aziz noted that in the wake of a recent anti-gay hate crime robbery on Throckmorton Street, many expressed interest in joining DPD’s Volunteers In Patrol program.

In response to that interest, the department announced it was lifting a requirement that VIP volunteers have to live in the area they serve. In other words, LGBT people who don’t live in Oak Lawn but have a stake in the gayborhood can now sign up for the program.

But thus far, Aziz said, the department has received only one application, and the applicant was ineligible because they had a felony on their record.

“I don’t have a line waiting outside the station right now,” Aziz said. “I wish I did have that problem.”

Those interested in signing up for VIP can call Sgt. Griffith at 214-670-6561. For the full survey results, see our original post. And we’ll have details about the new evening crime watch meetings as soon as they become available.

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