Each month, the Advocate visits with Sgt. Mike Gurley, Sr. Cpl. Pam Maines and Sr. Cpl. Rich Janich of the East Dallas Storefront police station, 1327 N. Peak Street (670-5523). The Storefront is best-known for its bicycle patrol officers, who pedal the streets of East Dallas weekdays. The City of Dallas funds the Storefronts, but numerous volunteers and organizations provide both hours and funds to develop special programs aimed at building better relations among police officers and neighborhoods. (Officers Maines and Janich were on duty at the State Fair and did not participate in this month’s discussion.)

Advocate: How have the City budget cutbacks affected Storefront operations?

Mike: Originally, we had four civilians working in the Storefront, and they were all laid off. However, three of the civilians are still in the neighborhood, providing the same services through the City’s Health and Human Services Department. So in reality, the neighborhood has the same service, it’s just applied a little differently.

Another staffing change is that a Storefront has been opened at the Roseland Homes complex at 2009 Carver Place. (Roseland is a 700-unit Dallas Housing Authority project near Washington Avenue and North Central Expressway.)

We can offer the residents a lot of services to deal with a lot of problems over there. The officers can build a relationship with the residents there, and it makes a difference.

Advocate: Overall, then, the Storefront was not seriously hurt by the budget cutbacks.

Mike: We suffered some personnel loss through the new budget, but this provides an opportunity for neighborhood citizens to get involved.

We need volunteers during the day who are willing to answer the phone, take messages, etc. It’s not that exciting – of course, you never know who will come in the door – but it’s really important. There are a lot of walk-in people who need referral information. Volunteers can do that.

This frees up the officers to do more work in the community. Of course, we wouldn’t leave a volunteer by himself in the Storefront, but by being there, the volunteer can free up the officer to do some of the other important details.

Advocate: What about the danger of working in a police department office? I’m not sure my wife would want me to do something like that.

Mike: We’re open during daylight hours (weekdays from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.), and we don’t have that many problems in this area during the day. And there will always be an officer in the Storefront with the volunteers.

Really, most of the people who come in are looking for information, not trouble. The Storefront has been at this location since 1985, and we haven’t had any trouble that I can remember. We have had people come in here who have been robbed, and one time someone came here because he new we were a resource within the community, and we were able to get him help.

We try to keep plenty of information handy for walk-in people to pick up, information about security alarms or whatever. We just want the information to be available to the community.

Advocate: So if someone wants to volunteer, what should he or she do?

Mike: Anyone who can donate even a few hours a week can give us a call (670-5514), and that would be great. The goal of the Storefront is to get a cooperative effort between the community and the police department. There aren’t really that many opportunities like that.

Dallas Police Offer Survey to Reduce Your Home Insurance Costs

How about this for a helping hand from the Dallas Police Department: Call the Storefront and save five to 15 percent on your home insurance policy.

State-mandated insurance cost savings are available to homeowners who successfully complete a security survey conducted by the police department, says Storefront Sgt. Mike Gurley.

Contact the department to receive a checklist detailing survey requirements. Once you have implemented checklist items, an officer will inspect your home. If you pass the survey, you will be eligible to receive five percent off your home insurance cost.

Another program being developed by the State, Gurley says, would save homeowners with “approved alarm systems” 15 percent on home insurance costs. The program would require insurers to provide the discount following police officers’ inspection and approval of a home security system.

The only hitch: The State has yet to define what is meant by the term “approved alarm system”. Until the term is defined, the insurance cost reduction is not available, Gurley says.

Contact the Storefront at 670-5514 for more information and to request an Insurance Reduction Survey.

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