Lt. Jeff Cotner, commander of the Dallas Police Department's Central Business District unit, says the McDonald's management has been committed for several years to making its high-profile corner safe and attractive. Besides the music, they've put up lights and kept the area litter-free. It's called "crime prevention through environmental design," Cotner explains. "Basically it means doing things to your surroundings that enhance safety versus lending itself to criminal opportunities." Loitering in the plaza in front of the restaurant went down, for instance, when the parking lot across the street installed fences and landscaping that stopped people from cutting through mid-block, Cotner says.
As for the music, says Cotner, "They wanted to bring down the intensity of that corner. I think of it as soothing, relaxing music."
Which is just what Martin Roth says it was doing to him one day last week as he picked at his extra-large fries. "I never used to come in here," says the Houston businessman who has clients in Dallas. "For some reason it feels safer now."
When told about the music, a smile flickered across his face, as if civilization had struck a blow. "Well that's great. I have [season] tickets to the symphony.