Downtown residents partnering with DPD to keep area safer

A new plan is in the works with Downtown Dallas residents and police to help keep the area safe. The latest effort to help people feel safer in downtown is coming from the people who live there.

The Downtown Dallas Neighborhood Association is working with the Dallas Police Department to get volunteers patrolling the streets. It's now taking applications.

The DPD Volunteers in Patrol Program has been around for a while. But the neighborhood association says it wouldn't have done much good in downtown since the rules restricted volunteers to their cars. The association got that changed, and they hope the added visibility helps keep things safer in downtown.

At the heels of Dallas' skyscrapers. it's not out of the ordinary to see security dressed in various uniforms. But across the urban jungle, not every corner is covered and not everyone feels safe.

Sarah Hoff moved away from downtown after two men ambushed her in the Davis Building parking garage in 2016.

“I don't feel safe in downtown because of things that have happened to me in the past,” she said. “So I don't really come to downtown that much.”

It's one of a series of high profile attacks over the last few years. In September, a man stabbed two women in an elevator at the Wilson Building near Main Street Garden Park. A month later, one man fatally stabbed another near the Thanks-Giving Square.

Now, volunteers — not more cops — might be used to try and make downtown safer.

“I think it would be good to have volunteers on the streets to kind of keep out for things,” Hoff said.

Tyler Lea is with the Downtown Dallas Neighborhood Association. It's worked with DPD and city council on the program. It hatched a plan for volunteers to walk the streets in two-person crews in visible uniforms to watch for crime.

“This has been in the works for several years, and now it's finally coming to fruition,” Lea said. “We will have a direct contact with the police that are on patrol to alert them to a potential crime that might happen.”

Volunteers would go through training but never confront anyone. For now, one catch is that the program will only happen during daytime hours. The association hopes that changes soon.

“We really come to life at nights,” Lea said. “The streets don't roll up at 5 o’clock.”

For now, it's progress.

“Downtown's alive. It's safe,” Lea said. “We just want to go make it safer.”

“This is great. This is what we're doing,” Hoff said. “Let’s take it to the next step: What else can we do?”

Hoff mentioned the need for more volunteers with organizations like ‘Big Brothers, Big Sisters’ to deal with the systemic issue of crime.

Anyone who wants to volunteer needs to fill out an application and waiver. They'll have a 4-hour training class soon and hope to get it started shortly.

LINK: DPD Volunteers in Patrol Program