Violent crime down 23% near gay strip

Violent crime was down 23 percent last year in a 1-square-mile area that encompasses Dallas’ largest gay entertainment district, according to statistics from the Dallas Police Department.

The statistics from DPD show that the number of violent offenses recorded in the area known as the Cedar Springs-Wycliff Target Area Action Grid dropped from 220 in 2009 to 169 in 2010.

The 2010 figures put the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG at No. 7 for violent crimes on a list of 27 TAAGs city-wide. In 2009, Cedar Springs Wycliff was No. 4 on the list. However, DPD officials have cautioned against ranking the TAAGs because they vary in size and violent crimes aren’t recorded on a per capita basis. Cedar Springs businesses have also raised concerns given that the Cedar Springs-Wycliff TAAG stretches all the way to Stemmons Freeway in some places.

Overall, violent crime was down 14 percent across all 27 TAAGs, the city’s worst hotspots, which helped fuel a 10 percent reduction in crime in Dallas in 2010.

Here are the top 10 TAAGs for violent crime in 2010:

1. Five Points: 291 offenses

2. Northwest-Harry Hines: 259 offenses

3. Forest-Audelia: 220 offenses

4. Jim Miller-Loop 12: 207 offenses

5. Hatcher-2nd: 205 offenses

6. Ross-Bennett: 188 offenses

7. Cedar Springs-Wycliff: 169 offenses

8. Buckner-Peavy: 167 offenses

9. MLK-Malcolm X: 165 offenses

10. Jefferson Corridor: 165 offenses

—  John Wright

Violent crime drops 11% in Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG

Police report 11 percent decrease in violent crime in Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG in first 6 months of 2010

John Wright  |  Online Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

Scott Whittall

Despite a recent high-profile hate crime in Oak Lawn, the area surrounding the Cedar Springs strip has gotten safer over the last six months, according to statistics from the Dallas Police Department.

In 2009, a roughly 1-square-mile area that includes the gay entertainment district recorded the fourth-most violent offenses of any of the city’s 26 worst crime hotspots.

But during the first six months of 2010, the area known as the Cedar Springs Wycliff Target Area Action Grid (TAAG) saw an 11 percent drop in violent crime, the statistics show.

From January through June of this year, the Cedar Springs Wycliff  TAAG recorded 95 violent offenses, down from 107 in the same period last year.

While DPD officials have cautioned against ranking the areas, 2010 numbers put the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG at No. 7 on the citywide list for violent crime.

DPD Deputy Chief Malik Aziz, who’s over the department’s Northwest Division, said according to more recent statistics, through July 11, violent crime is down 15 percent in the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG.

“We’ve been pouring a lot of resources into different areas,” Aziz said Thursday, July 15. “We’ve still got issues we’ve got to deal with, but crime is on the decrease. The payoff is as great as the community engagement with police.”

Overall, the 26 TAAGs have seen a 6 percent reduction in violent crime in the first half of this year.

In the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG, individual robberies have seen the biggest drop, going from 69 in the first six months of 2009 to 55 this year. The other categories of violent crime — aggravated assault, murder, rape and business robberies — have stayed roughly the same.

Aziz said there’s also been a substantial decrease in nonviolent offenses — including property crimes such as burglary and theft — in the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG.

Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said he’s noticed a difference.

“It’s definitely an improvement,” Whittall said. “I think as business owners on the street, we feel it. It’s definitely reduced, so those numbers don’t shock me.”

Whittall and others have criticized the TAAG statistics in the past, saying they’re not an accurate reflection of the gay entertainment district.

While it includes the strip, the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG stretches to Parkland Hospital and beyond Stemmons Freeway in some places.

“I have a feeling that in our little area, that it’s a higher drop,” Whittall said.

He added that he’s noticed an increased police presence, including an unmanned cruiser parked in the Kroger parking lot.

“That type of little extra effort is very welcome,” he said.

Whittall, co-owner of Buli Café, said the business received a visit recently from DPD officers conducting a survey about crime issues in the area.

During a June meeting with LGBT stakeholders, new Police Chief David Brown promised a return to community-oriented policing.

“We’re just trying to drill down to be more pointed and more focused on specific things we need to target,” Aziz said of the survey.

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Top 10 Crime Hotspots in Dallas in 2010

Area:    No. offenses
Five Points:    153
Northwest Hwy/Harry Hines:    114
Ross/Bennett:    108
Hatcher/2nd:    102
Forest/Audelia:    97
Jim Miller Loop 12:    96
Cedar Springs/Wycliff:    95
Buckner/Peavy:    92
Jefferson Corridor:    91
Buckner/Bruton:    87
Source: Dallas Police Department

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 16, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas