Operation Crackdown Says Adios, Drug Houses, With City Brass Along for the Benediction

Photos by Patrick Michels
City Attorney Tom Perkins, City Manager Mary Suhm, Mayor Tom Leppert and Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway. That's how many city officials it takes to knock down a building, plus Lt. Col. Mark Welch and the Texas National Guard.
Operation Crackdown is rumbling along through Dallas today, as the Texas National Guard continues knocking down abandoned buildings all over the city -- dilapidated havens for drug use and prostitution, few, if any, with Christmas decorations to mark the season.

Dwaine Caraway told us on Monday afternoon that they'd already knocked down the first of 31 houses marked for demolition, and earlier today he was out with a handful of city officials to watch a guardsman bulldoze yet another, at 4107 S. Lancaster. (This one, apparently, was a computer repair shop too.)

"It is very difficult to attract investment when you see these kinds of buildings," Mayor Tom Leppert said -- especially, he added, when you see what goes on inside. In just over three years, he said, he's doubled the city's demolition docket. After the building came down, this morning Leppert told us clearing away this building would show the community the city's making a difference for them. "It's not a cure-all, but at least it's one less place for the drug dealers," Leppert said.

That was Caraway's message when he spoke too, recalling the way neighbors came out to watch a demolition he saw along Myrtle Street earlier this week. "People started opening their doors because hope was finally arriving in their community."

He's the one who helped enlist Operation Crackdown to come to Dallas -- the largest city it's worked in over 17 years -- which should save the city $70,000 in demolition costs. Under the program, the National Guard's equipment costs are funded by money captured in drug busts.

Kids from Lisbon Elementary School -- who guardsmen also treated to an anti-drug lesson earlier this morning -- were along to cap off the countdown with three Caraway-led cheers of "Knock it down!" That video, and a few more photos, are after the jump.

Caraway speaks while Leppert listens.

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