iWatch So You Don't Have To: Liveblogging Today's Public Safety Committee Meeting

Categories: City Hall, Crime
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Afternoon, Friends of Unfair Park. Here I am in bristly cold City Hall prepared to bring you the latest in how Dallas is going to keep you safe. Or, how you're going to keep your damn selves safe with iWatch. Between that and Dwaine Caraway's magic crime-reducing cameras, we should be set. See something? Say something. But what if we smell something? 'Cause I just smelled Dwaine Caraway's sweetly fragrant man-fume when he came over to say hi to me. It's actually kind of nice. Matches his purple tie, somehow.

Kicking off with the crime report, Chief David Brown said that overall crime is down 9 percent. We "still have a lot of work to do in several different areas," said Brown, but he expects double-digit reductions in crime by the end of the year. Caraway kicked off questioning with a couple softballed State Fair-related items. Attendance is way up because of the great weather -- maybe you're having class outside today while reading this? Hope so -- but things are under control.

Rape is still up 18.8 percent for this month, down from a high of being up 28 percent earlier this year and a 25-percent increase last month year-to-date, and Sheffie Kadane asked about progress in that area. Chief Brown told him they're still concentrating on entertainment districts and "awareness," and notes that overall numbers of rape are down from 10 and five years ago. He alluded to the upcoming iWatch presentation, which should help in "reporting suspicious type of activities."

Tennell Atkins added that October 5 is the National Night Out, where everybody goes out and gets all aware and watchy and all that kind of thing, and the criminals of the world cower in the face of hot dogs and cover bands.

Staying on sexual assault, Delia Jasso talked about a new program at Presbyterian Hospital that's dedicated to sexual assault victims. More people may be reporting rapes because of programs like that -- though if memory serves, the chief's said at earlier meetings that that may not be what's happening. Regardless, Dwaine Caraway interjected with a specific threat for rapists, referring to the man who raped a woman outside a Dallas public library last month: "When we catch them folks, we got one behind bars now, it's the method of throwing away the key, and they need to know that." He calls it "zero-minus-minus" tolerance.

And now, to iWatch! Deputy Chief Brian Harvey is here to share alongside Chief Brown, who's back from a recon trip learning new ways to reduce crime, especially with modern technology. Not sure if DPD is trying to make this sound like a dystopian novel, but iWatch has some fantastic related terminology: Information goes through a "Fusion Center" once tips come in from SAR (private sector suspicious activity reporting). But before you check out of the real world and into that bunker in the yard, Chief Harvey assures that racial and ethnic profiling will be minimized because of the Fusion Center, and also because of an online focus group that'll be used to evaluate the program. Harvey says they've been in touch with civil liberties groups in trying to ensure nobody's liberties get uncivilly taken away.

Private Sector SAR folks can send in texts and photos in addition to phone calls, accessible to both English and Spanish speakers. Harvey says text tips are the "most exciting," however, and is particularly enthused about the smart phone apps. We've got some "very deep market penetration" in terms of getting all up in Blackberries and Droids, in addition to iPhone. Just two percent of the smart phone market remains un-very deeply penetrated by the DPD.
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