Cruising for a Bruising

The truth about Deep Ellum crime


The Commerce-Main-Elm shutdown is the first signal that city government is, at last, taking the problem in Deep Ellum seriously. Another good sign: The mayor's office has scheduled a sit-down with all the major players, a brainstorming session to come up with a solution. The summit will happen September 9, according to the mayor's chief of staff, Crayton Webb. Deep Ellum also will be a focus of the mayor's new Friday-morning accountability meetings with Chief Terrell Bolton and other city leaders.

"I do think that people in city government really care about us," Wisdom says. "But we're a collection of little fish. Because of that, we don't have as much immediate pull as the big fish. Obviously, if Ross Perot Jr. or Tom Hicks or somebody calls the mayor, I'm pretty sure that he gets a call back, even if she is on vacation. When guys that are down here who own a restaurant and live in a loft behind it, when they call, it's just not the same priority."

It helps now that Loza is around to do some of the heavy lifting. Deep Ellum needs someone who knows that Drastic Steps isn't just a band Wisdom used to sing for. It's what has to be done.

Deep Ellum Association Executive Director Sean Wisdom, right, and DPD's Lieutenant Vincent Golbeck work together to make sure the streets of Deep Ellum are Safe and Sound.
Mark Graham
Deep Ellum Association Executive Director Sean Wisdom, right, and DPD's Lieutenant Vincent Golbeck work together to make sure the streets of Deep Ellum are Safe and Sound.
No shirt, no sobriety, no service: Texas Proforce officers Yvonne Dupont, Ron Eggleston and Brad Richey look for ID on a passed-out Deep Ellum patron.
Mark Graham
No shirt, no sobriety, no service: Texas Proforce officers Yvonne Dupont, Ron Eggleston and Brad Richey look for ID on a passed-out Deep Ellum patron.

"I think it's going to send a message, I hope, that they're going to need to look elsewhere if they're just going to drive around without stopping or actually going anywhere," Loza says. "Hopefully it will get the point across. I've talked to a lot of people down in Deep Ellum over the past couple of weeks, and clearly the situation that they've got going down on the weekends right now just isn't satisfactory. We've got to do something about it. I can't say that closing down Commerce and Elm necessarily is going to be the only solution, but certainly, hopefully, it will be a good start on getting a handle on the crowds down there."

Not exactly strong language, but it's a start. Wisdom will take all the help he can get.

"I think there's a perception problem in Dallas," he says. "Part of my mission in taking over this job, and being involved in this area for 25 years in different capacities, is that if you look at Dallas' culture, if you look at the fact that people have a tendency to think that Dallas is a really shallow cultural town, well, Deep Ellum isn't. It's the one part of town that really isn't. It's not prefabricated. It's not a corporate chain idea that was built in some marketing room. It's the real deal. It has history back to the 19th century, and these are entrepreneurs who are down here because they believe in the idea. And my focus, my goal, is to get Dallas to start recognizing how important the area is and support it and look at it probably how New Orleans looks at the French Quarter, or New York looks at Soho. It's just as important to Dallas' cultural fabric as those places are to those cities.

"We need people to realize that we don't want this behavior in any neighborhood, not just Deep Ellum. West End had a problem like this years ago. For some reason it's moved over into this area. It's not as if we want it moved; we don't want it anywhere. Any place in this city, if we're running it the way that we should be running it, you should be able to go out, eat dinner, have a drink, see a band, do whatever you want to do and feel totally safe, particularly in our neighborhood."

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