At around noon today, Kelly Qualls, a crime analyst in the Dallas Police Department's Central Patrol Division, sent to Unfair Park three documents, all of which compare and contrast crime statistics for The Bridge-Dallas Farmers Market area beginning in 2007. All three follow, as does a DPD map of the area in question, but long story short is: The DPD's numbers reveal that while there has been a slight uptick in the number of car break-ins down there since '07, a year before the homeless shelter opened, overall crime is down around 3 percent overall.
Assistant Chief Vince Golbeck asked Qualls to send the stats following my conversation with Tanya Ragan, who, as you'll recall, is among the Dallas Farmers Market property owners and managers calling for the department to move its West End substation to South St. Paul and Cadiz Streets. Ragan, in fact, provided the photo you see above -- and, late yesterday, she sent myriad phone numbers of other property owners demanding DPD's stepped-up presence in that end of downtown.
But before we get to that, I wanted to talk to the chief -- who, as Sam noted last year, is a Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance board member -- about the group's billboard, crime near the Dallas Farmers Market and the likelihood of DPD moving its substation down there after all. Our Q&A follows.
As you're no doubt aware, Tanya Ragan has gone very public with her campaign to get DPD down to the Dallas Farmers Market -- and, more specifically, closer to The Bridge.
I can understand her frustration. I truly do. The pictures of the trash and defecation, yes, that's going to continue to happen unless I post an officer 24 hours a day on her property. I'm not being facetious, but her property is halfway between The Bridge and The Stewpot, so you have a corridor of people who are indeed going directly past her property. And that perception among prospective tenants is problematic.
But you have to understand as well: There's a criminal element that preys among and hides among the homeless. They know these individuals are weak. But it's incumbent upon the Dallas Police Department to maintain orderliness there, to take care of the drug-dealing, and we continue to do that. We work closely with the management team at The Bridge. We work hand-in-hand on ID'ing what we call "impact offenders," people we know are criminals and have no intention of getting help and come to do "inside" business. If you pull up the stats, it just doesn't prove out that crime has gone up. But perception is reality.
How, then, do you reconcile the drop in stats with the increased perception that things are bad down there?
I do feel for her regarding the criminal trespassing. We have to continue to stay focused and sustain our enforcement efforts. And she's done this public campaign to encourage us to relocate our West End storefront to St. Paul and Cadiz. We want to to that. It would be great for the neighborhood. It would be an economic catalyst. We have to look at the budget, though, and we're working closely with the property owners to get costs down. We like the visibility. We like being adjacent to the homeless community
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Those who are in need, they like the police being there. They will welcome it. But when you have 1,200 clients coming in on a daily basis, us having our officers going in and out continually, that will only be a positive.
So you are indeed considering that spot? Even before this campaign began?
We were already looking there. Yes. We have community stakeholders meetings at the farmers market. Tanya's kind of new to the scene. She travels back and forth. [Editor's note: Her cell phone number has a Minnesota area code.] She's just so frustrated. She's trying to understand the challenges with specific segments of the homeless population. And when she heard when it was a possibility that DPD would come, absolutely, now she can use it as a selling factor to a prospective tenant: In five, six months DPD will be your neighbor. We don't like to be used as a bargaining chip, but we're on the same page. ...
I won't be naïve and say crack's not being sold out there. But crime's not rampant. When you listen to her you'd think it's rampant and you're taking your life in your hands when you're down there. That is not the case.
Bridge Farmers Market Area YTD 2010 vs 2007 Bridge Farmers Market Area Year to Year 2009 vs 2008 Bridge Farmers Market Area YTD 2010 vs 2009-2