By Jennifer Duval, HOA Board, President
Town Creek Area Tapped for Federal Crime-Fighting Program
You may have noticed, the notorious J’s Food Mart near the corner of Skillman and Whitehurst has been shut down. The closure comes after the intensive and exhaustive work of a federal crime-fighting program called “Project Safe Neighborhood.”
“Your district has one of the highest crime rates in the state,” Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) P.J. Meitl told approximately 150 attendees of the October 2, 2018, Town Creek/Forest Meadow National Night Out Against Crime. Meitl is the local leader for “Project Safe Neighborhood” (PSN), which is a national effort by the Department of Justice to reduce crime by networking and supplementing local programs. It was created during the George W. Bush administration to enhance existing local programs and help ferret out root causes of high-crime zones. The Northeast Dallas location was selected for the project based on crime statistics provided by a criminologist at Texas Christian University.
“There aren’t a lot of criminals who actually live here,” said Meitl, “but they come here because your neighborhoods are considered affluent targets. Along with that, there’s a significant population of immigrants in the area, many of whom are less likely to call police if they become victims of crime.”
For the North Dallas PSN initiative, Meitl is spearheading a cooperative effort between federal, state, and local law enforcement to concentrate on high-crime regions and eliminate trouble spots in Lake Highlands. Most recently, the task force conducted a raid on a storefront illegal game room operating at Abrams Road just north of LBJ. Shutting it down is the latest victory for Project Safe Neighborhood according to Sharon Grigsby of the Dallas Morning News.
Officers from agencies that include the Dallas Police Department, Dallas County Sheriff, FBI, Texas Rangers, and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms work together to make day-to-day arrests and facilitate the long-term reduction of crime. The first six months of PSN in Northeast Dallas yielded more than 100 arrests and more than 50 federal charges.
Resources for the Northeast Dallas PSN include:
- About 60 officers plus multiple prosecutors assigned
- Identification and removal of gangs and gang-related activity
- Examination of all causes of violence including;
- Unlawful activities where items like firearms are bought by someone on behalf of another (termed “straw purchases”).
- Lack of security and camera surveillance
- Businesses that seem to attract criminal behavior.
- Deterrence programs established for convicted criminals after they rejoin society.
In July of 2018, Meitl told the Dallas Morning News, he was focused on J’s Food Mart. The small convenience store seemed to be an active hub of around-the-clock criminal behavior such as drug use, drug sales, prostitution, and high-stakes gambling. Along with making arrests at the store, the PSN team worked with the property owner to make the location less attractive to the criminal element. In November, it was shut down.
Learning that the Town Creek area was selected for a federal high crime initiative was a sobering revelation for many residents – find out how you can help prevent crime through our Crime Watch and VIP programs at towncreeklakehighlands.com.