— By Jennifer and Mark Duval
Happy 2020, neighbors! It’s a new year and a new chance to improve life in our neighborhood!
I certainly don’t mean to be presumptuous, but I have five important new year’s resolutions for Town Creek residents. What better place to share them than our own Town Creek Crier?
Join Crime Watch
If it seems like I am constantly encouraging you to join Crime Watch, it’s because I am! It’s important. Here are some reasons why:
Dallas Police Department is understaffed by 800 to 1,000 officers. That means the only proactive patrols in Town Creek are the ones we pay for.
- It took Dallas police more than an hour to respond to a high-profile murder at Hotel ZaZa. A MURDER.
- A few years ago, crime in Lake Highlands was so high, a federal program called Project Safe Neighborhood picked us for a national crime-fighting initiative. It’s a great program, and it’s had demonstrable results. However, it’s temporary and will end in a few weeks.
- Your Ring doorbell doesn’t bring police to your house any faster.
- Your security alarm system is great, but DPD response times are at an all-time-high. Response times in the city are between nine and ten-minutes according to recent reports. A lot of bad things can happen in ten-minutes. Crime Watch officers STAY in our neighborhoods and can be at your door much sooner.
- Dallas had almost as many murders as Chicago this summer. In fact, our overall violent crime stats for 2019 are on par with the per capita numbers in Chicago.
- The State Troopers who patrolled in Dallas this summer are no longer patrolling in our area.
- The overall crime in Lake Highlands is 58% higher than the national average.
- In Lake Highlands, you have a one-in-24 chance of becoming a crime victim.
- Dallas police refer to the Forest/Abrams area as “Northganistan” because of the danger and violence there.
- Nearby, Forest/Audelia is listed as one of the ten most dangerous places in Dallas due to drug, crime, and poverty statistics.
- There are 10.46 crimes each day in Lake Highlands.
Crime Watch is seriously more important than ever. I know the cost can be off-putting, but to me having full-time police patrols in our neighborhood makes it a totally worthwhile value. You can join right now by going online to visit www.TownCreekLakeHighlands.com and clicking “Pay Your Dues Online” from the top-line menu. Then find “Crime Watch Program” under the “Town Creek” header. Click “add to cart.” The website will take you through the PayPal process and send you an email confirmation.
Join Volunteers In Patrol (VIP)
Since we don’t have ‘round-the-clock Crime Watch patrols (seriously, please join Crime Watch – more members equals more patrol hours and we want to max those out!), we have the police-sanctioned “Volunteers in Patrol” (VIP) members who patrol the neighborhood as well. It’s a non-confrontational program, so neighbors who go through the training just observe and report. While Crime Watch officers and police can detain and arrest people, VIP simply informs law enforcement of suspicious activity. Cars with the light and patrol markers also serve as an excellent deterrent to bad guys who may be casing the area (same goes for Crime Watch by the way).
Training for VIP service is professionally conducted by Dallas police, and it usually happens quarterly. It takes about four hours to complete. Please keep an eye out for emails and social media announcing training opportunities and join this important group!
Call 9-1-1 and Crime Watch
Reporting of suspicious persons and activities in our neighborhoods has dropped off in recent years. Our Town Creek neighbors are nice and respectful and a lot of us don’t want to cause trouble for people unnecessarily – that’s totally understandable. But if your Spidey sense is tingling and something or someone looks “off,” please don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 and/or Crime Watch. Too many crimes occur because people are more concerned with their self-doubt than their safety.
I see exchanges like this on social media all the time:
“Anyone else hear gunshots near Town Creek just now?”
“Yes, I heard them.”
“Anyone call 9-1-1?”
“What’s the point?”
Personally, just the other night, I heard gunshots around 9 p.m. I immediately texted 9-1-1 to report it. Yes, police response times are poor and, sure enough, officers didn’t arrive to catch the culprits. BUT, getting these transgressions on the record is important. It helps in OUR neighborhood if DPS has an accurate idea of where crimes occur as they are allocating officers to specific areas. The point is, even though law enforcement struggles to respond, they need crime-spotting to be as precise as possible.
Join the Homeowners Association (HOA)
I don’t want to belabor the crime issue (although it is tremendously important), so resolution suggestion number four is simply to join the Town Creek HOA. It’s only $40 a year (compared to the $200 per month average for HOA dues in the DFW area), so it’s a bargain and a value! All money goes to beautification and community enhancement for our neighborhood.
And BTW, that scenic creek path that goes through our neighborhood, the city doesn’t maintain it – the HOA does. After last year’s horrible storms, our HOA Board creek manager worked diligently getting the city to clean up everything they were supposed to while hiring the best landscapers to fix the rest. This was a big and important job last year, and she wouldn’t have been able to get the creek back to normal without funding from your HOA dues.
HOA memberships also fund social activities like the Halloween Carnival, our neighborhood socials, and the Easter Egg Hunt. Without enough members, we won’t be able to support these events. It would be sad for our community to lose even one. I hope you agree, it is neighborhood happenings like these that help make Town Creek special.
Joining is simple. Just visit the HOA website, www.TownCreekLakeHighlands.com. Click on “Pay Your Dues Online” from the top-line menu. Then find the “Town Creek” window, the “HOA Membership” option, and click “Add to Cart.” That starts the PayPal process for joining. Or, you can send us a check. The mailing address is right there on the website.
Get to know your neighbors
We heard it again and again at the National Night Out last October – “The best way to create community and improve safety for Town Creek is for us to get to know our neighbors and to watch out for each other.” You don’t have to wait for the HOA events. Social media makes it easier than ever to plan events. Use the Town Creek Facebook Group and get online with “Next door” to break the ice! Organize a block party. Start a book club. Plan a progressive dinner. It’s fun and will help unify residents block-by-block and street-by-street as we get to know one another better.
We hope the new year brings you all good health, good fortune, and good times. Please consider enacting any or all of the above suggestions, and please email me at Jennifer_Duval@iCloud.com with additional suggestions or questions you might have.