The Dallas neighborhood at Ferguson Road near I-635 LBJ Freeway demonstrates the need for more law enforcement as Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall asks for help.
The Chief praised the county, state and federal law enforcement agencies that have accepted her request for assistance fighting a spike in crime including nearly 100 murders so far this year.
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Along Ferguson Road in broad daylight Friday, one guy was counting a wad of cash. Another wearing a ski-mask sat beside the convenient store next to the Meadow at Ferguson Apartments.
Cars would stop along the street as those and other vendors appeared to be selling items to customers out of their car windows. The vendors benefit from easy access to the freeway.
"It's an excellent location for street drug dealing," said landlord Hudson Henley.
He purchased the apartment complex in January and soon added his own security force.
"There are not nearly enough police officers. You call 911, and you can wait hours," Henley said.
He found the 'green' at this 'meadow' is growing mostly for the street vendors outside his complex. His security people try to keep the vendors and their customers out of the complex and make it safe for residents.
Adriel Turner with ARAJ Security Consulting said his crew stopped a suspect one night on the complex property who they had just seen buying drugs from the street vendors. Turner said it took Dallas Police six hours to respond.
"In that gap between there, we had two individuals pull guns on us in this parking lot because we were interrupting their drug sales," Turner said.
When Dallas Police officers did arrive, Turner said they refused to take the suspect because the police had not actually seen the drug transaction themselves.
Henley said he can't get Dallas Police to make arrests for any infractions at the complex, even when he knows the perpetrators.
"Police officers will tell you, that's a civil matter, after somebody's kicked in a door or smashed a door that's going to cost me several hundred dollars to fix," Henley said.
Three Dallas police squad cars were at the gas station adjacent to the complex Friday for a traffic stop.
"That's more than there've ever been in the last 30 days," Turner said.
One officer said a neighbor driving erratically was taken home by the officers instead of being arrested.
The street vendors disappeared while the police were on the scene, but they were back within minutes after the squad cars left.
The guy counting cash and the one wearing a ski mask did not hide, even though it was obvious a television camera was taking pictures. The man with the ski mask displayed an obscene gesture, but did not surrender his location in front of the convenient store.
"Where you create an environment where bad people feel they can get away with bad things, expect escalation, expect turf wars, expect gunfire, expect assaults, expect robberies, home break-ins, it's all interrelated," Henley said.
The landlord owns properties in several other North Texas cities. He said improving this one in Dallas is much more challenging.
While Chief Hall brings in reinforcement, some living in the southern sector want more than just an increase in law enforcement officers. They say fighting crime also includes meeting people's most basic needs.
"There’s a reason you go into the desert and you can’t find any roses. Why? Because that environment is too poisonous for roses. The same exact principle works on the ground that we’re standing on," said Dallas resident, Mark Praise.
Praise loves Dallas, especially the southern sector. He’s lived there for more than 20 years and enjoys the atmosphere. The violence, though, has become tiresome.
However, he doesn’t believe adding more officers is the only answer. He prefers a wholistic approach.
"The people in this area, that’s all they’re doing is cannibalizing on each other for the simple fact that there’s no jobs available," said Praise.
Praise says he simply wants the same safety and security for Dallas that he felt growing up.
"My fond memories are universal and the same for everybody. Going to rec centers. Being able to play sports. Playing football. Playing basketball," he said.
Asked for a response to the activity in the Ferguson Road location, Dallas Police Chief Hall said Friday that help from the other agencies may free Dallas officers to return to more of the "quality of life" issues that have received less attention.