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

WATCH: Barney Frank takes ownership of ‘the radical homosexual agenda’

Rep. Barney Frank

Rep. Barney Frank had a number of one-liners in TV appearances last weekend following the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

He said he wondered what would have happened if he or another elected official had suggested exempting gays and lesbians from service.

”We have this important idea,” Frank said on Hardball on MSNBC. “Let’s exempt gay and lesbian people from having to defend the country. You talk about people complaining about special rights.”

“Showering with homosexuals?” he said in an interview with CNS, a conservative media watchdog. “What do you think happens in gyms all over America? What do you think happens in the House of Representatives? Of course people shower with homosexuals. What a silly issue!”

“Remember, under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ by the way, the policy was that you would be showering with homosexuals, you just weren’t supposed to know which was which,” he said.

Speaking after the repeal, Frank said in a press conference that there is a “radical homosexual agenda” — to be protected against violent crimes driven by bigotry, to be able to get married, to be able to get a job and to be able to fight for our country.

And he put those worried about it on notice: “Two down. Two to go.”

But in a more serious assessment on Hardball, he said, “Giving gay and lesbian people the chance to show, in the most challenging thing you can do in America, that we really are just like everybody else, except for our choices about what we do in intimate moments, will do more to help us destroy the myth.”

—  David Taffet

Young Stonewall wants to ‘Light Up Oak Lawn’

Political group seeks money from grants and other sources to fund lighting safety program for entertainment district

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Brian Stout
Brian Stout

Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats this week unveiled their new effort to make Oak Lawn safer by improving lighting in the area.

DSYD announced the “Light Up the Night” campaign during a meet on Tuesday, Aug. 10 at JR.’s Bar & Grill, explaining that the group plans to raise money to add lighting to the neighborhood bounded by Oak Lawn, Maple, Wycliff and Lemmon avenues, according to DSYD Communications Director Michael Maldonado.

The Cedar Springs area is included in one of the Dallas Police Department’s 26 Target Action Area Grids. Last year that TAAG recorded the third-most violent crimes in the city.

Reported violent crimes in the area have decreased considerably this year.

Latisha McDaniel, who lives on Hall Street in Oak Lawn, was one of those attending the meeting. She said poor lighting is a real problem for residents.

“It’s scary to walk alone because it’s so poorly lit,” McDaniel said.

Several holdups in the neighborhood were mentioned, including an incident in which two people were robbed near the Seville apartments on Reagan Street, and another in which three people were held up in front of an apartment behind the CVS Pharmacy on Lemmon Avenue.

David Richardson, who owns Skivvies and has had other stores along Cedar Springs over the past for 30 years and was among the founders of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said he has seen “huge improvements” in Oak Lawn over the years.

He said safety has always been a concern and recalled when prostitutes were a common sight along Cedar Springs Road and drug dealers and hustlers hung out on the streets behind the bars. He attended the meeting and said he is delighted with DSYD’s efforts.

“I’m glad to see another group step up to help us,” he said.

DSYD President Pennington Ingley said the group looked at studies from around the United States and Great Britain that showed that crime decreased in neighborhoods when lighting improved.

One concern was that crime would simply move from the newly-well-lit streets to other nearby streets. But Ingley said that the studies showed that improved lighting in one area has a positive effect on neighboring areas as well.

Ingley said that despite police statistics that show a decrease in crime in the area this year, he hasn’t seen any improvement in the four years he has lived on Reagan Street.

“People walk in complete darkness on Reagan Street from the Seville to Cedar Springs,” he said.

He joked that there is a solution, which is why they named the project “Light Up Oak Lawn” rather than “Stop the Muggings.”

Vice President Brian Stout said that the board walked every street in the area to map every working streetlight.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to how they’re laid out,” Stout said.

DSYD Political Director Jennifer Allen said the group also studied what lights to purchase and how to fund the project.

“We need 200 to 350 more lights to have adequate lighting in the area,” she said.

She said they recommended low-sodium LED lighting that would cost $1,000 to $1,500 per unit. Fully funding the project could cost $.5 million.

Allen said there were cheaper alternatives to getting the streets lit sooner that used bulbs. But those bulbs would burn out sooner and use more electricity.

She added that DSYD are exploring several sources of funding including economic development grants, money from foundations, neighborhood developers and government grants. Members have spoken to Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt about working with city grant writers to help obtain the money.

At the meeting, DSYD members acknowledged the city’s tight budget situation. While they expected the city to back the plan, they said did not expect the council to vote money to help pay for it.

Michael Milliken is active with the Oak Lawn Committee, which deals with zoning issues in the area. He extended an offer to work with DSYD, especially with helping them make contacts in City Hall.

DSYD Secretary Jared Pearce said that getting grants would take some time but that the group hopes the project can be completed within two years.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas