Each month, the Advocate visits with Sgt. Mike Gurley, Sr. Cpl. Pam Maines and Sr. Cpl. Rick 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 Storefront, but numerous volunteers and organizations provide both hours and funds to develop special programs aimed at building better relations among police officers and neighborhoods.
Advocate: What have you guys been up to for the past month?
Mike: Well, a couple of us went to a seminar on Asian gangs. A private group (Friends of the East Dallas Storefront) funded the trip, and we just want to be aware of the pattern and techniques that are unique to Asian gangs. Not that we have a big problem with that here yet, but it’s just good to be aware.
Advocate: Is there really a difference between Asian gangs and white, black or Hispanic gangs?
Mike: Normally, it’s (Asian gang crime) an Asian against Asian issue. Few times, if ever, is it Asian against white. That’s just the way it is.
Because of the cultural characteristics of Asians, the victims (of gang violence) may not report (to police) the full nature of the crime or might not report it at all. A lot of times, they’re told that if they call the police, the suspects will come back and get them. And the language barrier (between victims and police) often is a problem and makes them fearful to come to us.
With Asian gangs, a lot of times, the gang will rob a family when they know the family is home. That was almost unheard of in Dallas. They’ll deliberately bloody the nose of a gang member and send him to the front door to ask for help. Once he gets into the house, he kind of cases the place, checking it out. Then, he leaves, gets the rest of the gang members and they all return. A lot of the Asians keep a lot of their valuables and money right in the house. That makes them targets, unfortunately.
Advocate: What about the language barrier?
Mike: Right here, we’ve been lucky enough to avoid a lot of this. We have Asian employees here in the Storefront, and people know they can report crimes to us, so I think that discourages a lot from happening. The point of the seminar was not that we had a large problem here, but to educate the two of us who attended to be ready to recognize and handle something here when it comes.
Advocate: How about another topic? Do you have any special projects for the holidays?
Mike: The cold spell has really put us in a bind in terms of obtaining donated coats and blankets for the people who need them.
Rick: We gave away 180 coats in five days recently.
Pam: Lots of their clothes, too.
Mike: We’ve got a good source for clothes, but we have to have the monetary donations to buy them. And blankets are the big deal. Normally, groups wait until around the holidays to donate, but the cold is here, and the holidays aren’t. So no one has gotten to that yet. If anyone wants to donate some clothes, just drop it by the Storefront from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Advocate: Any other points of interest this past month?
Rick: It just seem like people have really cheapened human life.
Rick: Well, we’ve had a few crimes around here lately, family on family crimes.
Advocate: That brings up a good point. The average newspaper reader or TV news watcher sometimes hears about a really sad crime like that and in a matter of 30 seconds, assumes this somehow is indicative of real life and that the world is really getting worse. And yet, I suppose there’s a lot more to those stories than we usually hear about in the 30-second news coverage.
Pam: Sometimes on those deals, the (police) investigators know right away that someone is guilty, the husband or wife or whatever, but they can’t do anything about it right away. There’s no proof.
Mike: It’s kind of earmarked that there’s something wrong with this picture.
Rick: The investigators have to look at the whole picture. You can’t assume the husband or boyfriend did it all of the time.
Mike: If you notice, though, this type of crime seems to go in patterns. How many times in the last few years has the husband killed the wife and made it look like a breakin? There have been a couple right here in these neighborhoods.
Pam: People read about it (that type of crime), they see it on TV, and they decide to do it.
Mike: Well, every once in a while, we all hear about someone who “gets away with it” or almost, anyway. And some people think that if they can figure out what that person did wrong, they can correct what he did wrong and get away with it on their own.
Advocate: Yeah, but do you think these people really believe they can outsmart everybody and really get away with this type of crime?
Pam: I believe they think so.
Mike: They think: “I’ve watched Rescue 911 (a television show), I’ve watched all these other police and detective shows on TV, and I think I can get away with it.”
Pam: Some of these people, they just try to do it like they see it done in the movies. Of course, that’s the down-fall of a lot of them. The way people do crimes in the movies is a lot different than it happens in real life.
Rick: Still, life just seems to be thought of a lot more cheaply these days.
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