Oak Cliff neighborhood hires off-duty police officers to patrol on Fourth of July

Homeowners association hires off-duty officers to patrol their neighborhood and hopefully have a quieter Independence Day

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A neighborhood in Oak Cliff is again taking security into its own hands for the Fourth of July.

The Marsalis Park Homeowners Association president said shelling out money for officers to patrol their neighborhood is worth every penny.

The group is once again hiring two off-duty Dallas police officers to patrol 11 streets in and around South Marsalis Avenue on Independence Day.

The neighborhood, with a large number of senior citizens, took the initiative after being terrorized by rowdy revelers who unloaded weapons in so-called celebratory gunfire and fireworks throughout the night.

“We had some of our seniors had to leave home and go get a hotel room because it was just that bad,” recalls Ola M. Allen, president of the Marsalis Park HOA. “It means a lot to be able to lay down comfortable in your environment and you’re safe.”

The association sought donations from neighbors and HOA members to cover the $88/hour fee per officer.

She said the project has paid off with calmer holidays, including New Year’s Eve.

The neighborhood leader doesn’t fault Dallas police for not immediately responding to July 4 calls for loud music, fireworks and celebratory gunfire. While a nuisance, such calls would be considered lower priorities on a night when police nationwide respond to life-threatening calls for service.

Dallas police stress that the department does not seek out opportunities to work off-duty in neighborhoods and that individual neighborhood groups hire off-duty officers.

“There's some things you have to do for yourself, and this is our community,” she said. “This is where we live. This is our environment, and we are willing to do whatever it takes to make it better.

Residents receive notices with phone numbers from the security officers patrolling the neighborhood on Thursday evening.

The department said they will increase the police presence across the city on the Fourth of July even though, according to the department's latest numbers, the city is still 182 officers short of being fully staffed.

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