Dallas Police Create Patrol Unit for High-Complaint Areas

Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011  |  Updated 9:45 PM CDT
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The new Community Engagement Unit will focus on the areas that have the highest number of 911 calls.

Kim Fischer, NBCDFW.com

The new Community Engagement Unit will focus on the areas that have the highest number of 911 calls.

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Dallas police launched a crime unit Wednesday that aims to clean up problem neighborhoods with the help of the community.

The Community Engagement Unit will focus on areas that have the highest number of 911 calls, such as Grauwyler Park. Fifty officers at each of the city's seven police substations will concentrate on the neighborhoods.

"That's great, and I'm glad to hear that they go more officers on the street," said Wilma Avalos, a member of the neighborhood watch in Grauwyler Park.

The idea came from Operation Disruption, a group of 20 officers who were centrally located and sent out to neighborhoods across Dallas.

"And it was very effective, but it had its limitations in that it was a relatively small unit and it had a very large geographic area to try and cover," Lt. Chess Williams said.

But officers in the Community Engagement Unit will be able to get to know the neighborhoods and the people living in them.

"What we really want to do is get feedback from the public in specific neighborhoods -- what are the problems here? Do you have prostitution? Burglary of motor vehicles?" Williams said.

Avalos and Dallas police both say they are confident the unit will be successful.

"A lot of times, it's the officers that's closer to the neighborhood that does the good job," Avalos said.

The 20 officers who were in Operation Disruption were spread out across the seven DPD substations. The rest of the officers in the Community Engagement Unit were pulled off patrol.

Dallas police said the moves should not disrupt regular response because of the influx of officers in the last few years.

NBC DFW's Kim Fischer contributed to this report.

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