Northwest Dallas Business people secured promises Thursday for increased police protection from Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall. In return police asked the business people for cooperation confronting prostitution and other problems.
Rolando Rosales runs Wild Turkey, a restaurant and bar that’s been a landmark on Walnut Hill Lane for 40 years. But Rosales said the area around his business has declined sharply in recent years.
Offices and warehouses nearby that once had lunchtime customers are vacant. Prostitutes are a common sight along the street at all hours, but Rosales said police are not as common.
"There's not enough officers," he said. "A lot of customers tell me, 'Oh the area, the area is becoming bad and so that's why I don't bring my children no more.'"
His concerns were among the issues shared with Chief Hall at a meeting of the Northwest Dallas Business Association Thursday.
"Law enforcement plays a major role in everything, economic growth, development," Hall said.
Hall said the Police Vice Squad that was disbanded for a year is back in business and will be a part of addressing the Northwest Dallas issues along with patrol officers.
"We know that this is not an overnight cure," Hall said.
Hall admitted the police department is around 600 officers smaller than it was a few years ago, but she asked the business people to stop blaming that for a lack of police performance.
"We are not unable to do our job because we're short of manpower. So please stop saying that. We want you to stop saying that. We are able to do our job. We have to do it differently. And we may have to reach out to our partners to assist us in doing some things, but we are not unable to do our job," Hall said.
It was federal officials who shut down the Han Gil Hotel on Dennis Road in Northwest Dallas earlier this month. The place was notorious for prostitution and homicide.
Hall also said an efficiency study underway now will help make better use of the officers Dallas has.
Northwest Dallas Deputy Police Chief Rick Watson challenged the business people to file criminal trespass affidavits with Dallas Police that will grant officers the power to remove unwanted people from a business location, even if the owner is not present. Watson told the Association members to call 911 and help report problems.
"We want you to call," Watson said. "We're not going to use that against you."
Some business people fear retaliation from police or city code enforcement if too many crimes are reported at a business location.
Rosales said business people also fear retaliation from criminals if they are identified for calling police.
"It's a major risk for us," he said.
After the meeting Thursday, Rosales said he had heard similar promises from police in the past.
"In reality, it's always been kind of sort of the same thing. So we probably get a little more attention this time," he said.
The long time Northwest Dallas businessman said he hopes the new dialog with police will help turn the neighborhood around.