The Deep Ellum Foundation, along with a group of property and business owners in the area, organized a little extra security last year for one of Dallas’ most iconic districts. The program initially consisted of additional patrols by off-duty police officers and security guards during Deep Ellum’s busy weekend hours. The foundation’s latest hire will further these safety efforts as the patrols become a more permanent part of an ever-changing neighborhood.
It took fewer than two weeks for the Deep Ellum Foundation to find Phillip Honoré. A recent transplant to Dallas, he’s a seemingly perfect fit for the role of Deep Ellum’s first public safety manager. With nearly three decades of experience in law enforcement and management under his belt, including a 13-year stint as a senior criminal investigator for the U.S. Department of Defense, Honoré says he’s on familiar ground in his new position.
“The main goal is to make sure Deep Ellum is a safe place for visitors and businesses because we want the area to continue to be successful, but we know we’re going to grow," he says.
After getting acquainted with the neighborhood regulars and city officials, Honoré will begin to expand the neighborhood’s security program with the goal of making the area a safe place for everyone despite its growing pains.
“We feel like we’ve done a great job to build this [this program], but he is going to do a great job to grow it and take it to a level that I could never take I to,” says Jessica Burnham, Deep Ellum Foundation executive director. “We’re excited for his expertise and for him to come in and start getting a more intimate lay of the land than I have been able to … and to really understand not only where the hotspots are now but where future hotspots will be and get those taken care of before they become problems.”
Part of that expansion has already been seen in the neighborhood’s implementation of Dallas’ Enhanced Neighborhood Patrol program, which is more commonly found in residential areas like White Rock Valley and Lake Highlands Estates. Its use in Deep Ellum has required customization of the program, Burnham says, and the foundation’s public safety program is going further than simply increasing patrols on weekends.
“There’s a great advantage to having a program established and some of the inner working already kind of worked out, but the exciting part is the position has room to grow, especially in reference to what the mission is,” Honoré says.
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The foundation also has kept track of the special use permits that bars and venues are required to have in order to operate in Deep Ellum. Burnham says crime in Deep Ellum may once have arisen from negligent businesses and inattentive property owners, but the majority of crime in Deep Ellum now comes from the street level.
“Most of the crimes that’s been happening have been crimes of opportunity that happen to the people that are coming, by people that are here and are not contributing to the neighborhood,” Burnham says. “They’re not patrons. They’re not going in and having a good time and actually being a part of Deep Ellum. They’re coming in and taking advantage of it, so [through the public safety program] we’ve been able to really identify those bad actors and have been able to really solidify that that’s the issue.”
The addition of someone with Honoré’s experience in the role of public safety manager hopefully will help bridge the gaps among city officials, residents and those with a financial stake in the growing community. Maintaining the collaborative relationship among all involved parties is key to the program's continued growth.
“When there’s a collaborative effort from the city, the neighborhood, the businesses, everyone involved, you will see an improvement,” Honoré says. “There’s always going to be challenges, but it's how you deal with those challenges that matter.”