DPD public access link shows what’s happening
The Dallas Police Department’s new public access link to crime reports on its Web site confirms what I already knew you’ve got to be crazy to walk the streets, especially at night.
I knew that from my days as a reporter for the Dallas Times Herald when I would occasionally be assigned to weekend duty at the old downtown police station and would have to peruse through a 12-inch stack of crime reports from the day before. The sheer number of crimes that occurred on a daily basis flabbergasted me.
Flash forward a couple of decades or more, and it’s a lot more of the same. Except now, anyone with a computer and Internet service can get a snapshot of what’s going on in Dallas crime-wise. You don’t have to make a trip to the police department to look at a copy of a crime report, nor do you have to be a member of the media to get a look at everything that happened the day before.
Here’s what I learned about the first 29 days of January’s crime activity after just a few minutes of manipulating the Dallas Police Department’s Web site search engine.
Citywide, in those first days of 2008, police reported seven murders, 564 robberies (of which 382 were classified as “aggravated” and involving possible deadly force), 96 aggravated assaults and 1,703 burglaries.
That was citywide.
It’s also possible to narrow the searches down to neighborhoods. All you need is the beat numbers for an area. For instance, for the area of Oak Lawn extending roughly from Central Expressway, along the border of Highland Park, down Inwood Road and back across Harry Hines Boulevard, I surveyed reports from seven beats. Five of the beats are under the command of the Northwest Division; the Central Division patrols two of them.
That revealed no murders, 25 robberies (of which 22 were aggravated) two aggravated assaults and 44 burglaries. I guess that’s not so bad in comparison to the rest of the city, unless you happened to be one of victims of the aggravated robberies who lost a total of more than $7,000 in cash and other valuables.
Most of the robberies involved businesses and individual victims who had guns shoved in their faces and were told to turn over the contents of their wallets.
Surprisingly, a significant amount of the total losses involved cash. Other people seem to carry a lot more cash on them than I do. One Fort Worth man lost $500 after a gunman on foot held him up at about 9 p.m. on a Saturday night as the victim sat in his car in a parking lot in the 3900 block of Cedar Springs Road.
Oddly, a pharmacy clerk on Lemmon Avenue was robbed at gunpoint of two cartons of Newport cigarettes at 1 a.m. on a Monday morning. The cigarettes were valued at $84, which just goes to show how the price of cigarettes has shot up and what people will do to keep smoking them.
Eventually, my survey got me to wondering how my Oak Cliff neighborhood stacks up against the rest of the city crime-wise. The answer: Not bad.
In my survey of the beat where I live, I found a half-dozen burglaries of homes and three robberies, two of which were aggravated, and the usual burglaries of motor vehicles, simple assaults, criminal mischief, etc.
In the end, my survey of the crime report reminded me that there’s one thing that never changes about police reports they make some of the most interesting reading to be found.
So if you’re curious, visit dallaspolice.net and click on the “Public Access” button. Follow the instructions and you’ll soon be learning all kinds of things about the neighborhoods where you live and visit.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 1, 2008