Police Step Up Foot Patrols Near Deep Ellum, as Residents Say Homeless Problem Is Getting Worse

Dallas police are stepping up their patrols in Deep Ellum to crack down on a growing problem with homelessness and an increase in petty crime.

The move comes eight weeks after Dallas city leaders closed down the homeless-encampment known as "Tent City" a few miles away, under Interstate 45. Hundreds of transient residents called the encampment home for months.

For weeks, Deep Ellum residents say they've called the cops regularly to complain about thefts, burglaries and aggressive panhandling.

Dallas police say they've heard the complaints from residents. And now they're stepping up foot patrols in Deep Ellum and nearby neighborhoods.

"It's gotten worse. There are a lot more homeless people out," said Laura Collins. "They'll ask for money, or if you have cigarettes, and now it's just constant."

Collins' brother lives in Deep Ellum, and during the summer break, she regularly brings her son to hang out with him in the trendy neighborhood.

But she doesn't feel as safe as she used to a few months ago.

"When they used to have tent city, it seemed like they were always there, and now it seems like they've come more to the area here," she said. "It's kind of uncomfortable, because you can't just walk through Deep Ellum with my child feeling safe."

Calls to the local police station have gone up, and property crime and vandalism is an ongoing issue.

"I was literally just looking out the window at lunch and telling my friend that this is getting out of hand," said Aaron Brown, a paralegal who works in Deep Ellum. "You see a lot more aggression, and a lot more people overall."

As a response, police officers are stepping up their visibility here. There are more patrol cars driving through the streets and near the apartment complexes and lofts, and there are also more officers walking the beat on foot. Some officers even drive on Segways to boost their coverage area.

Officers hope it makes a difference, and residents say they appreciate the police response.

While certain petty crimes have gone up in recent weeks, police say it's not unusual for the summer months. Police said they can't link the city's closing of Tent City as a cause to the increase number of police calls in the area.

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