New Crime Fighting Approach for Dallas Convenience Stores

Police to team up with code enforcement officers

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Dallas police will team up with code enforcement officers in an effort to inspect more convenience stores and improve neighborhoods in a new crime-fighting approach announced by the city.

There are two corner stores on the north side of U.S. Highway 175 C.F. Hawn Freeway at St. Augustine Drive in Pleasant Grove, where there is also a motel, apartments and vacant land.

The Mayor’s Task Force on Safer Communities last year found convenience stores were a common connection to problems in a neighborhood formula like this.

Rene Martinez is co-chairman of the task force.

“They were the location where people could congregate, could drink and loiter,” Martinez said.

Zain Dosa, the manager at one of the corner stores said he hired his own security because police are slow to respond to problems there.

“The people over here, they start fighting, they start doing criminal activities over here,” Dosa said.

Dallas police attempt to inspect convenience stores and work with owners to install surveillance cameras and effective lighting.

So far, 759 stores have registered for inspections and police have completed 444, according to a briefing for the Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee this week.

Now, the plan is for police to team up with code enforcement officers to conduct more inspections. Officials said they also want to make the rules tougher and require at least three cameras in every store, to record video of crooks coming and going.

“Amending the ordinance so that code can have the authority to address some of these recurring issues will really improve the quality of life for the residents,” City Council Member Jennifer Gates said.

Code inspectors can deal with problems police may not have time to address, like finding owners of the vacant property behind a convenience store that harbors neighborhood problems.

“That joint effort of different inter-disciplinary organizations to come in and take action is what's needed,” Rene Martinez said.

Dosa said he would welcome the extra city attention.

“We want our place to be safe and secure,” he said.

In the next few weeks, Dallas City Council action will be requested to put the new convenience store enforcement approach in place.

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