Home Security and Safety Advice

I hope everyone is enjoying the Spring. It has been another quiet month in the neighborhood which is always nice. However, we should continually be vigilant about safety, and it’s always a good idea to think about home security. Therefore, this month we will talk about home security systems. I will give a few ideas to think about. I found these good ideas from Safewise.com which is a site devoted to Home Security and Safety advice.

To start, it is important to consider several key items when determining the best system and company. I will list a few considerations below to stimulate some thought.

Monitoring:

How a system communicates with the monitoring center. The three most common ways your system can communicate with the center are: landline, cellular and broadband.

The landline is exactly as it states, it uses a landline to communicate with the monitoring center. The cellular system uses an uplink to communicate with the monitoring center when an alarm is triggered. This system is considered more reliable than a landline because it is faster and it will still function if the phone lines are cut. A broadband system sends a signal through the internet connection if an alarm is triggered. This system is also faster than a landline. Although it is not more reliable than cellular, it is less expensive.

Installation:

Do-it-yourself (DIY) or professional. Some companies will offer either DIY and professional or one or the other only.

With DIY, the installation is done by the homeowner; and a set of instructions will usually accompany the system. These systems are easy to install and most take less than an hour. These systems are typically wireless and can be transferred from one home or another. This would be the system of choice for a renter given the ability to carry it with you.

The professional system could benefit the homeowner in that you wouldn’t have to worry about performing the job yourself or making a mistake during installation. The professional installer is present to answer questions during the installation process. These systems are usually either wireless or hardwired. It is important to research which one fits your need because some may require a landline. It is a good idea to consider how long you will be in the home since there may be conditions for whether you can transfer the system to a new home or location.

Home Automation:

This centers around the ability to control various events in the home beyond basic security which includes: thermostat settings, turning on and off lights, and locking doors amongst other things. This system allows one to control these various events remotely from a smart phone or a web-enabled device. With each system, you will want to determine the level of automation and control desired. Each company can offer a package based on individual needs.

Moving Forward:

All home security companies will offer a mixture of choices of each of the above items. It would be worth your time to research these ideas and companies in order to tailor the system that fits your need and location.

The top 5 companies as listed by safewise are: Frontpoint, ADT, Link Interactive, Vivint, Protect America.

Enjoy the nice weather and remember, be observant, vigilant and neighborly.

Submitted by Joseph Schill

Published on May 2, 2017

Security

Right off the bat, let’s give a warm thanks to Danny Oberst for his hard work over the last two years. He contributed many good ideas to the monthly newsletter and expended a good amount of energy monitoring the crime data and acting as a liaison between the neighborhood and local law enforcement. I also want to personally thank Danny for getting me up to speed with the necessary information to make a smooth transition.

I have lived in Bryan Place for the past 8 years in the Bryan Place Condos. I have made a few changes recently workwise, which will allow more time in getting to know my fellow neighbors and the neighborhood. I’m looking forward to working with the BPNA as the security chair.

We made it through the Holidays of December and, unfortunately, had several crimes in our backyard. We started off the month with a shooting at Little Woodrow’s. Thankfully there were no fatalities. We had: several residential thefts including stolen packages from outside the home; a few vehicular thefts; a few vehicular hit-and-runs and the mailbox banks in the Bryan Place Condos were burglarized and damaged beyond functionality.

Unfortunately, our neighborhood, located in an up-and-coming part of town, will not be able to avoid crime. As the area grows around us and more people move in, we will continue to see crime; but, hopefully, it will not be linear with the population growth. As someone who has been the victim of theft, I have become more vigilant in trying to avoid this from occurring again. Therefore, I will give a few ideas below which might help you all avoid being the victim.

Packages:

  • Consider a webcam to monitor your front door or street. You might be able to catch someone in the act or identify a thief. This has been mentioned on Nextdoor on some previous posts regarding home theft.
  • Join a virtual neighborhood watch i.e Nextdoor which is a message board connecting neighborhoods. We have one for Bryan Place; and if you haven’t connected, I would encourage you do so. As busy professionals with different work hours this would be a good place to connect with neighbors.
  • Have packages sent to an office which will be able to accept during the day. This could be your place of work or to a service like doorman.com. This is a concierge service which will accept your package and then will deliver to you at a time most convenient to your work schedule. There is a fee but may be worth the peace of mind.
  • You can use Amazon Locker which is a special locker system at select locations across the area. Packages will usually be kept for 3 days.

Vehicular theft/damage

  • Always a good idea to keep all valuables out of sight, in a locked area within the car (trunk) or not inside the car altogether. I have found it to be a good idea to lock the glovebox (if you have a locking mechanism) to avoid someone rummaging through the papers kept there i.e. insurance cards with addresses, names etc.. The folks out there are looking for an easy target, so we need not to help.
  • Window tinting helps make items in the car less visible. This could be a cheaper alternative to having a car window replaced (should it be broken in theft). Not saying this is a guarantee, but it could help.
  • Unfortunately avoiding vehicular damage due to hit-and-run damage is difficult, given we have so many people parking on the street. May be another reason to have video surveillance in the neighborhood.

Hopefully, you found some things helpful here. I look forward to getting more involved and meeting some of you in the neighborhood. Until then be vigilant and observant and neighborly!

Published on January 7, 2017

On-Street Parking

On-street parking will always be a contentious issue in our tightly packed urban community. Below is a summary of common parking violations and possible options available to combat unwanted nonresident parking. For more information:Parking Enforcement on the Dallas Police website or call 3-1-1.

On-Street Parking Violations

  • Blocking driveway access
  • Parking on the wrong side of the street (facing on-coming traffic)
  • Parked for over 24 hours in one place
  • Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant
  • Not in approved parking space (no parking zone, parking on lawn or unapproved surface)
  • Junk vehicles (a vehicle that is inoperable)
  • Oversized vehicles – truck-tractor, semi-trailer, bus, trailer or truck over one and one-half tons

You can call 3-1-1 to report parking violations 24/7. They will ask for the following information:

  1. Type of parking violation,
  2. Location of violation,
  3. License plate # of vehicle,
  4. Description of vehicle.

“No Parking” Signs

By City of Dallas ordinance, “No Parking” signs are handled on a petition basis. In a residential area, citizens must have a petition signed by 80% of affected citizens in the same block, on the same side of the street, with 51% being in favor of the change. There is a $50 non-refundable application fee and a fee of $25 per sign installed/removed. For more information: Transportation Engineering 214-670-3260.

“Residential Parking Only” Zones (Dallas Code 28-121.12)

This is a method that has been used successfully in the Lower Greenville area to help control parking from surrounding bars and restaurants. A residential parking only program establishes zones to restrict on-street parking during certain hours and days, and allows only those vehicles displaying a parking permit (rear view mirror hang tag) to park within the zone. Any vehicle parked in the zone without a permit, during restricted hours and days, can be ticketed, towed, or immobilized.

An area may qualify to become an RPO zone by submitting a petition signed by two-thirds of the property owners or residents indicating their desire for the RPO program and a $50 application fee. City staff will conduct a field survey to determine if more than 60% of the available parking spaces are in use and 20% is non-residential parking during the requested days and hours. If a zone qualifies, the residents will bear all costs of sign fabrication and installation ($42 each). Each resident or business can purchase a maximum of six hang tags. Hang tags cost $6 plus tax per year. For more information: http://www.barkingdogs.org/news/node/129

On-Street Parking by Residents

In Bryan Place, we have to be particularly careful parking our cars in the street due to our narrow streets and high density. We want to insure fire trucks and ambulances can access our neighborhood during an emergency. Please park as close to the outer edge of the street as possible, on the correct side of the road and try to stagger your parked car with the vehicles parked on the other side of the street.

Published on May 4, 2016

Panhandling and the Homeless

You have probably noticed the articles, like I have, concerning the recent police crackdown on panhandling and the enduring homeless problem. Of course, these two concerns are intertwined since a significant number of the panhandlers are also homeless. I wanted to summarize some of the information in these recent news articles and share a few thoughts of my own.

As you are probably aware, residential activity in downtown and the surrounding areas has exploded in recent years and along with it, mounting concern over crime. Downtown residents have been particularly vocal in the last few months demanding more police attention and visibility, and they have been very successful. Late last year downtown residents pushed for and won full 24-hour police coverage in downtown. Previously, no police patrols had been assigned specifically to downtown during the late night hours (this being a carryover from the old days when downtown was a ghost town at night, which is definitely not the case anymore). The recent crackdown on panhandling is also a direct result of the renewed police attention being given to the downtown area.

From talking with Deputy Chief John Lawton from the Central Division (which includes downtown and Bryan Place), I learned that they have special panhandling units concentrated in downtown and the Deep Ellum areas where it is thought to be more of a problem. This, of course, results in a “whack a mole” situation, where the bad guys move on to other neighborhoods not being targeted by the police. As a result, we need to be watchful

for this type of activity in our neighborhood and quickly call 9-1-1 when appropriate.

The police are asking residents to call 9-1-1 when seeing panhandlers and to not give them money. Some of these panhandlers are violent felons (33 of the 162 individuals arrested for panhandling in 2016 have had a history of violent crime). Car windows should stay closed and doors locked at all times when being approached by these individuals.

Our Mayor, Mike Rawlings, has made the homeless issue a priority for the past decade (as Mayor and previously as the city’s homeless czar) but the problem continues to grow. Recent surveys have shown that the tent cities under I-30 and I-45 are growing along with the associated crime, trash and public health issues. New initiatives come every year or so but the problem persists.

What I take away from all this is the need for our community to stay informed and involved with the issues affecting downtown and the surrounding communities. The city responds to pressure by its citizens, proving the age old saying that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

Please do not hesitate to contact the police with any security issue or concern by calling 9-1-1 or 3-1-1 (for non-emergencies) when appropriate.

 

Published on April 9, 2016

Police Update

You may have seen articles in the Dallas Morning News recently about the increase in crime in Dallas.

The Dallas Police Department is responding by forming a Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF). Our Neighborhood Police Officer, Jeff LaBarba, tells us that the Central Division, which includes our neighborhood, will see a considerable increase in patrols.

In addition to our regular patrol officers, the VCTF will add an additional 170 officers who will focus on a target area, which includes our neighborhood. The VCTF combines officers from the K9 unit, gang unit, narcotics, swat and patrol units to address violent crime.

This is a very positive effort and is already showing results in the form of narcotics and gun arrests. You can follow VCTF on Twitter @Dallas PDVCTF.

 

Published on April 8, 2016

Quarterly DPD Crime Watch Meeting

The Dallas Police Department Central Patrol Division had its quarterly crime watch meeting at the Meadows Foundation Center for Community Cooperation (2900 Live Oak) on December 2, 2015. The meeting was well-attended with about fifty concerned citizens, a large number of central patrol police officers and other city service representatives (including our police representative for Bryan Place, NPO Jeff LaBarba and our Code Compliance representative, Jose Ruiz). The 90 minute meeting was lively and included presentations by Mike Rawlings (Mayor), Vana Hammond (Chief of Community Relations), Maureen Milligan (Operation Blue Shield and Community Prosecution), David Hogan (Crisis Intervention) and Deputy Chief Lawton (DPD). The following is a summary of the points made during the meeting:

  • Mayor Mike Rawlins remarks included an upbeat assessment of the state of our city and Police Department. Crime statistics in Dallas have dropped steadily over the past twenty years (violent crime has been cut-in-half since 2005). Although he acknowledged the recent uptick in the crime statistics in 2015, he was hopeful that the trend lines for lower crime rates will continue into the future. Mayor Rawlins complemented the DPD on its record of excellence. He also discussed the initiatives the City is taking to address homeless issues in downtown and the surrounding areas.
  • Operation Blue Shield is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to build support and appreciation for the DPD and the officers who put it all on the line for our community. The organization also raises funds to purchase needed safety equipment not always provided for in the city budget. Please see their facebook page for more information and opportunities to get involved.
  • The Dallas Community Prosecution Team was established in 2001 to work in partnership with community leaders, Dallas Police Department, Dallas Fire Department and city code enforcement to develop long-term solutions to quality of life issues not easily resolved by any one city department or group. The team is headed by the City Attorney’s Office and attempts to strategically attack blight and havens for criminal activity by coordinating city services and departments. This program has been especially effective in targeting and focusing city resources into problem properties and neighborhoods. One example given of a local community benefiting from this program was the Jubilee Park area close to Fair Park.
  • DPD Officer David Hogan discussed the department’s Crisis Intervention group and how it deals with cases that only social services can solve. The crisis team includes licensed social workers and counselors that handle cases involving juvenile problems, homelessness, mental illness and the elderly.
  • The Central Division has opened a new third-shift (11pm – 8am) to the downtown patrol. This is in response to the increase in residential and commercial activity downtown and the growing vitality of the inner city. Deputy Chief Lawton mentioned that there are now over 10,000 residences in the central business district.

Published on January 8, 2016

Year‐end Security Recap

It is hard to imagine that this year is coming to a close and that a new year will be here soon. I have learned much in my first year as the Security Chairperson. In looking back, I wanted to review some of the more important lessons that I have learned.

The importance of knowing and looking out for your neighbor. Time and time again, I have seen helping neighbors take the initiative to prevent crime in our community. It is by far the most effective crime fighting tool that we have.

Be the squeaky wheel. Don’t be afraid to call in suspicious activity, youn remain anonymous. Also, please report all crime to the police. All crime and suspicious activity calls are monitored closely by the police and are in large part the primary determinant on how resources are distributed in the future. I have found the police department to be very responsive to problems in our community once they are clear on the problem and know that the residents are engaged and care enough to be that proverbial squeaky wheel.

The threat of a major fire emergency is very real in Bryan Place. The combination of the high density and narrow streets of our urban neighborhood, make the danger of a quickly spreading fire one of the greatest threats to our property and safety. Please be very mindful of where you park on the street and keep your trees trimmed properly so that emergency vehicles can access our community.

Burglary of Motor Vehicles (BMV) is by far the most reported crime in Bryan Place. This is the theft of personal property out of a parked vehicle. These continue to account for about half of the reported crime in our neighborhood and in large part can be prevented by making sure you lock the door and remove/hide the valuables in your car.

Recently, I received information from Officer Jeff LaBarba, our representative from the Dallas Police Department, about the apprehension of the two men seen recently in Bryan Place with a wheelchair stealing UPS/FedEx packages from front doors. Officer LaBarba wanted to thank the observant Bryan Place neighbor for noticing the pair and calling it in to the police. He went on to mention that some residents had reported these crimes on NextDoor (an internet social network) but did not file a report with the police. Since the Police Department is not able to receive these posts, (for privacy issues, they can only push information to NextDoor) they were initially unaware of this situation. Officer LaBarba went on to say, “The most important point is to call 911 when you see suspicious activity or are the victim of a crime… so that we are aware and can respond to criminal activity in your neighborhood.”

And lastly, I need your help in trying to identify the security issues in Bryan Place. Please email me at doberst23@me.com if you have any input for future newsletter articles. Your ideas and thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Published on December 1, 2015

Speed Study Update

At the General Meeting concern was expressed about speeding on Skiles and Pavilion Street. We forwarded a request to the Department of Street Services to have a mobile speed monitoring sign installed. Before installing a mobile speed monitoring sign, a traffic study is conducted to determine if vehicle speeds warrant the installation.

We received the results of this traffic study from the Assistant Director and City Traffic Engineer for the City of Dallas, which are as follows:

On Pavilion Street, staff measured the speed of 751 vehicles over a 24‐hour period and the results of the study showed only 28 vehicles were traveling above the speed limit. At the same time, the speed of 1061 vehicles was measured on Skiles Street and the results showed there were no vehicles exceeding the speed limit.

Based on these results, the installion of a mobile speed monitoring sign was not approved. While it is somewhat comforting to know that vast majority of drivers are maintaining the speed limit, we encourage residents to keep us informed of further traffic safety concerns.

 

Published on September 1, 2015

Neighborhood Robbery Reminds Us to Stay Alert

Officer Jeff La Barba, our police liaison for Bryan Place, notified the association of a recent aggravated robbery in our community.

The robbery occurred in the early morning hours of Monday (7/27) in the 3200 block of Bryan Street. “The victim was walking down the street when two Latin males approached, and one was armed with a large knife. The victim dropped his property and ran, and the suspects fled in a newer model Toyota Camry on McCoy towards Ross. The responding officers did not find the suspects.”

Officer La Barba also mentioned that this was the first incident of this kind he has seen in our area. This incident is a reminder to call 911 without hesitation if you have encounters with/or see suspicious persons/activities in our neighborhood.

Published on August 9, 2015

Support your Police Department

Police departments across the country have been under intense scrutiny over the last few months and specifically, the DPD has been literally under fire with the recent armed assault on their headquarters on Lamar Street. Amazingly and thankfully police personnel were not injured in the attack. The Dallas Morning News has run several articles recently detailing the strain our police department is currently under in responding to these new incidents and threats. Officer Albert Sanchez wrote a moving post recently on Nextdoor thanking those making the special effort to openly support the DPD. If you appreciate the police officers putting their lives on the line everyday to protect our families and homes, please make the effort to write a letter, go by the Central Division Office and drop off some sweets, write an email or shake their hands and offer a kind word of thanks the next time you get a chance to show your support. Submitted by

Published on July 13, 2015