Violent crime falls 13% in Oak Lawn hotspot

But jumps in vehicle burglaries, auto thefts fuel overall increase in 2011 for Maple-Wycliff TAAG

Martin.Laura

Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com
Violent crime fell roughly 13 percent last year in the 1-square-mile hotspot that encompasses the Cedar Springs entertainment district and most of the Oak Lawn gayborhood, according to statistics provided by the Dallas Police Department this week.

However, the number of nonviolent offenses jumped 7 percent in the area —including significant spikes in vehicle burglaries and auto thefts — leading to a 4 percent increase in overall crime.

The Maple-Wycliff Target Area Action Grid, previously known as the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG, stretches generally from Maple Avenue to Lemmon Avenue, and from Oak Lawn Avenue to Kings Road.

The area, identified by DPD as one of 27 crime hotspots citywide, recorded 108 violent offenses from Jan. 1 through Dec. 26 of 2011, down from 122 violent offenses during the same period in 2010. Statistics for the final five days of the year were not yet available this week.

The 2011 numbers put the Maple-Wycliff TAAG at No. 7 for violent crime on a list of the city’s worst hotspots. Three years ago, shortly after the hotspots were identified, the Maple-Wycliff TAAG climbed as high as No. 2 on the list.

“I think part of it is the general trend in Dallas and nationally, that crime has gone down,” said Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt, whose district includes portions of the Maple-Wycliff TAAG. “I think the other part of it is the additional focus the city has placed on making safety a greater priority in that area.”

Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, LGBT liaison for DPD, cited increased patrols, including plainclothes officers, as well as greater community involvement.

“The reason we have TAAG areas is they’re identified as high crime areas, so we address them with extra patrols,” Martin said. “Those areas where we have high crime get more attention, so it would stand to reason that crime would be reduced in those areas.”

Both Hunt and Martin also pointed to improved street lighting in the gayborhood, much of which was initiated by Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats’ Light Up Oak Lawn campaign.

Martin said even the Office Depot at 2929 Oak Lawn Ave. — where the parking lot has long been plagued by aggravated robberies — recently installed additional lighting.

“If you go over there on the weekend now it looks like Christmas,” Martin said. “I don’t believe we’ve had a problem since then at that location.”

The 12.5 percent decrease in violent crime in the Maple-Wycliff TAAG was part of an 8.8 percent reduction citywide — which marked the eighth straight annual decline, a record for Dallas.

The Dallas Morning News reported this week that murders dropped to a 44-year low in 2011, while total crime was down 39 percent over the last eight years.

Factors cited as contributing to the trend include the hiring of hundreds more police officers over the last few years, DPD’s strategy of hotspot policing and the large number of convicts who are behind bars.

However, despite increased attention from police, the news was not all good for the Maple-Wycliff TAAG. Statistics obtained by Dallas Voice show vehicle burglaries jumped 21 percent from 2010 to 2011, while auto thefts jumped 17 percent.

The Maple-Wycliff TAAG recorded 338 vehicle burglaries in 2011 — or an average of almost one per day — up from 280 in 2010.

Martin noted that the number of vehicle burglaries dropped sharply over the last month of 2011. She said this was after DPD made several arrests of burglars who had been very active in the area.

Martin advised people to park in well-lit, nonisolated areas, away from shadows and tree cover, and to lock their vehicles and set their alarms if they have them.

She also said people should take anything from their vehicles they can’t afford to lose, and hide everything else under a seat, or in the glove compartment or trunk.

But she warned people against hiding items after they’ve already parked, because she said criminals look for this.

“You don’t want people to observe you hiding things,” she said. “Make your vehicle a hard target. Burglary of a vehicle a lot of times is a crime of opportunity.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

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.

………………………………..

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