Safety Sunday, says Pamela Stephenson, is what neighborhood safety is all about.
“I don’t want to be foolish about safety,” says Pam, president of the Vickery Place Neighborhood Association, describing her group’s efforts to make residents aware of safety issues once each month.
“But my sense is that we can do this ourselves, that we should exhaust our own personal resources before we ask the city and the police for help. This way, neighbors can reclaim their neighborhoods again.”
According to Dallas police, Vickery Place – a roughly 45-block neighborhood bordered by North Central Expressway and Goodwin, Greenville and Belmont avenues – offers a model in neighborhood crime prevention.
One day each month, Pam and her board of directors walk their neighborhood to meet neighbors and extend a hand to those who cannot physically or economically help themselves. And each month, the board organizes Safety Sunday (the third Sunday of each month) to promote greater awareness of neighborhood security issues.
Their help ranges from installing dead-bolt locks (provided free-of-charge by the Dallas police department) in low-income residents’ homes to supplying engraving pens to record anti-theft serial numbers on valuables.
“We fund a lot of things out of our own pockets in order to kick-start some things, get some enthusiasm going,” Pam says. Members aren’t charged dues, Pam says, and little support outside the neighborhood is solicited. However, the group recently received a $100 seed grant from Altrusa, a professional women’s organization, to support its crime-prevention program.
What of the future? Pam and fellow board member Nancy Cunningham are busy planning voter’s registration drives, block parties, guest speakers, publishing a monthly newsletter and even scheduling neighborhood movie nights at the Granada Cinema ‘n’ Drafthouse. (Anyone with a valid drivers’ license proving Vickery Place residency is admitted free-of-charge.)
“I just care about our neighborhood,” Pam says. “A neighborhood is a manageable place. We want people to know each other and their (police) beat officers, because that makes a difference.
“I know some neighborhoods are hiring off-duty policemen for patrols, and that’s OK. But I don’t think we’re doing our job as neighborhoods yet, so I’m not going to ask for that type of support until we’ve done everything that we need to do first.”
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