On Monday a few Friends of Unfair Park seemed a little humbugged to hear that the Dallas Police Department, along with the mayor and the Dallas County District Attorney's Office, would prefer you buy non-black-market items for your Christmas list this year. Nonetheless, DPD Chief David Brown, undeterred, stopped by the city council this morning to give them a rehash of that press conference, and to emphasize again the department's new approach to fighting retail theft: go after the bosses and "third-party sellers," not just the petty thieves. Brown told the council members that DPD would like to see "long sentences for these crime bosses," something he said they'd be able to do with new, increased cooperation from the retailers who are being targeted by the crime rings. In 2012, he said, DPD will also create a Major Property Crime Unit to help with these investigations.
"We want the crime boss to have a set of handcuffs on him," he said, showing off some clip art of a man in a fedora sporting some comically over-sized cuffs.
Brown also briefed the council members on "Chief On the Beat," the department's new series of "Health and Safety Fairs" designed to engage community members in, as he put it, "a non-enforcement setting." Deputy police chiefs from each of the seven city patrol divisions will participate in these fairs, along with representatives from code compliance, sanitation, and other city departments.
In his view, Brown said, "The most effective way of reducing crime is to prevent it from happening, and you do that by engaging the community, getting citizens involved."
With that, Brown introduced his "special guest," who will also be present at the fairs, and should be familiar to anyone who watched a lot of cartoons in the '80s: McGruff the Crime Dog. McGruff shambled into the briefing room and waved at the tiny audience. He shook hands solemnly with the mayor, then high-fived council member Scott Griggs.
The rough dates for the "Chief On The Beat" fairs are on page 13 of the handout. Swing by for your chance to hang with McGruff, and, just possibly, Gina the graffiti-fighting giraffe. Yes, really. Settle down.