Safety First

With all this huffing and puffing over the future of Deep Ellum--and, from what I saw in The Dallas Morning News this morning, all's well, so what's the fuss?--has anyone at City Hall or from the Deep Ellum Association given John Thayer a ring? Who he? Well, Thayer's a 31-year vet of myriad police and sheriff's departments who's become quite the expert in policing entertainment districts. In fact, five years ago Thayer and Cal State prof Blair Berkeley published a piece called "Policing Entertainment Districts" in a British journal called Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management; it's available here for a few euros, and it's well worth the coin. The report doesn't deal much with Dallas, though DPD Lt. Vince Golbeck, who once was the officer assigned to head the Deep Ellum police crime patrol, was interviewed for the study.

But available for free is a "public safety assessment and strategic plan" Thayer did four years ago for Memphis, which was having similar problems with its Beale Street entertainment district. All the mayor and her task force have to do is read the danged thing and, voila, problem solved. Fine, just someone give Thayer a call, willya?

Or maybe someone already has: I talked to the guy for my Deep Ellum story a few weeks ago, and he shared this intriguing nugget:

"I got a call from a character who was secretive, who had deep, dark secrets about Deep Ellum, and he never called me back," Thayer said. "He was a little on the strange side, and I hoped I could find out more, but he never followed through. It sounded like they had some issues and conditions there that can be a contributor to success or bring about the collapse of the vibrancy of an area."

Thayer and I visited for an hour, and the man had a million ideas about how to restore and revive the area--and all from the perspective of a cop who thinks a bigger police presence is a bad idea downtown. ("A cop on every corner is a typical knee-jerk response.") I beg--beg--the city to talk to this guy. --Robert Wilonsky


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