Background

Our current Crime Watch has been active and effective since 1992, when current leadership reorganized the remnants of the previous efforts from the 1980s. In 1997 and 1998 the coordinator of our group, then known as Crime Watch #1078, received three awards on behalf of our crime watch: In November 1997, from Northeast Organized Neighbors (NEON); in December 1997, from the Dallas City Council; and in August 1998, from the Dallas Police Department (Doris Berry Award for outstanding performance). Since then, our goal has been to maintain the excellent standards that led to our recognition by businesses, officials, and police officers. In fact, Highland Meadows Crime Watch received The Crime Watch Group of the Year award from the Dallas Police Department in 2008 for our “years of service, outstanding dedication to the community, and building a true community partnership with the Northeast Patrol Division.”

Organization

Although we retained the name of Crime Watch #1078 (our police reporting area) until January 2005, the DPD divided us into three new reporting areas back in 1995 (9609, 9610, and 9611) to accommodate keeping statistics for the increased number of persons living here. Our area includes 1,390 homes, fifteen apartment complexes, and approximately 60 businesses.

R.A. 9609 includes the homes, townhomes, businesses, and several apartment complexes west of Rolling Rock, as well as the odd-numbered homes on those blocks of Rolling Rock.

R.A. 9610 includes the homes, businesses, and numerous apartment complexes east of Rolling Rock (also even-numbered homes there) and north of McCree (also odd-numbered homes there).

R.A. 9611 includes the homes, businesses, and one apartment complex east of Rolling Rock and south of McCree (also even-numbered Rolling Rock and McCree homes there).

For organizational purposes, the original crime watch leadership in the 80s divided our area into ten sub-divisions, a configuration that has served us well over the years. Each of the divisions has a Section Leader and enough Block Captains to deliver newsletters and interact with neighbors on their blocks. In the event of a crisis due to crime or weather, it is believed that our existing network will be beneficial to any emergency support efforts that might be necessary.

Communications

HMNA has a voice mail number (214-967-5081) which allows residents the opportunity to hear a weekly updated message that details any Part I (serious) criminal activity of the past week. Callers may also leave pertinent crime information or ask questions. The phone service is available 24/7 and is monitored by neighborhood volunteers.

In connection with the voice mail system, we have numerous alert signs which are placed to notify residents of heightened crime. After a series of phone calls from our sign coordinator, volunteers place signs at the most travelled entrances to our area and several locations within. During the sign placement periods, which typically last a week, the voice mail message is altered to explain the reason for the presence of the signs, and the callers are asked to state the location of the sign they saw. This information helps to ensure that all portions of our area are being informed.

Crime Watch email reports are provided to our residents on a weekly basis through our web service. These reports, prepared by our Crime Watch Chairperson, detail weekly criminal offenses within our boundaries, educate our neighbors about safety, and announce important meetings pertinent to the topic of crime.

Crime Watch and More

Annually in the fall, our neighborhood celebrates National Night Out. Neighbors are encouraged to come together to strengthen police-community partnerships and heighten crime prevention awareness. We promote the annual DPD Santa Cops Program and donate toys to children who have been affected by crime. At our annual fall neighborhood meeting, we present awards to a Crime Watch Volunteer of the Year, as well as the patrol member who has patrolled the most hours during the year.

Patrol

Our neighborhood has an active Volunteers in Patrol (VIP) group which came into existence in 1995. Enrollment consists of approximately 50 trained members, and a percentage of these perform actively each month. Members must be at least 18 years of age and must pass a police background check before taking six hours of training by the DPD. Patrols go out in pairs as required by the police, normally for a two-hour patrol, which is the amount of time it takes to drive on every street and alley in our area. Magnetic signs that say VIP or Neighborhood Patrol are placed on volunteers’ vehicles when members are on patrol. At night a flashing yellow light may be placed on the top of the vehicle. In the past we also had a Bike Patrol, and currently two members serve on Walking Patrol.

According to police regulations, patrollers carry no weapons but are “armed” with a cell phone, which is used to call 911 or, using the neighborhood directory, to call neighbors who have left their garage doors up, an entry door ajar, or items in the yard. We do not call 311 about code violations but attempt to warn residents about infractions by mailing an Observation Notice, which gives people an opportunity to take measures to avoid being cited by a code officer. Another service patrol members provide is the Patrol Vacation Watch, which gives extra attention to homes when residents are out of town. To initiate this service, residents should call voice mail or send an email to crime watch to notify the patrol of the inclusive dates they will be away.

Being on patrol is much like being a DPD beat officer. Volunteers may prevent a crime by their presence in the neighborhood, but they very seldom come upon a crime in progress. More often, they see the indications that a crime has already taken place. However, patrollers can call 911 about suspicious persons and/or vehicles, and that may stop an offense from happening. In fact, being observant and calling 911 when something makes you uneasy is a way in which every one of us can participate in our crime watch! If you would like more information about serving in the patrol, contact Officer Joe Schutz at joseph.schutz@dpd.ci.dallas.tx.us or call 214-670-0160. You may also send an email to our neighborhood crime watch or leave a message on our voice mail system (1-800-737-1446). The following documents are necessary for participation:

Volunteer Application
VIP Waiver
VIP Agreement

Links:
Dallas Police Department
DPD Northeast Division on Facebook
DPD Northeast Division on Twitter