Yesterday, I met with Police Chief Kunkle, Central Division Chief Brian Harvey, and other DPD officers to discuss the violent murder and stabbings on Greenville Avenue over the weekend. We met for over an hour and had a productive discussion.
My first question was whether we could have prevented this with additional police presence. Police Kunkle explained that since last November, he allocated $600,000 in overtime pay to Lower Greenville, Deep Ellum, and the Cedar Springs entertainment areas, providing 5 additional officers to Lower Greenville. In fact, Chief Harvey himself was right across the street when the fight broke out that resulted in the stabbings. Police were also at the scene immediately in response to the murder. On Middle Greenville, where the murder took place, the DPD will increase the police on the street between midnight and 3 a.m. starting this weekend.
My next question was, how do we prevent this from happening again? Part of the solution, the police advised, was to work with the bars on crowd control and dispersal. The police explained that fights generally break out when bars close and the streets become congested.
But the police also see this as an extremely problematic area with no simple solution. So where do we go from here? To me, this violence is symptomatic of a larger problem on Lower Greenville. Unlike Deep Ellum, Lower Greenville is a strip of bars surrounded by neighborhoods and families. It is in the middle of a residential area, and there are inherent conflicts.
There is a severe parking deficit in Lower Greenville. The lack of parking results in bar patrons parking in front of people’s homes, some of whom return to their cars late at night, relieving themselves in residents’ yards, slamming car doors, playing loud music. We need more resident-only parking, and a solution to our parking deficit.
The music from some bars can be heard in the neighborhood late at night, and the roof-top patios exacerbate this. In addition, bar patrons can be loud walking back to their cars parked in the neighborhood.
TOO MANY BARS
There is an over-concentration of bars along Lower Greenville, andwe need a healthier mix of retail and restaurants.
CROWD IS TOO YOUNG
The police tell me part of the problem is the 18-20 year olds who patron the area establishments.
HOW DO WE SOLVE THIS?
Just increasing police presence in the area is not going to solve the underlying problems. That would be a band-aid, and we need a more comprehensive solution that addresses all of these issues. I have received some very good emails with creative suggestions, and I ask that you keep them coming. We must address public safety, parking, noise, traffic, crowd control, and the mix of businesses.
I am setting up a taskforce of city department representatives to examine this issue. Chief Harvey will represent the DPD, and I will have others from code enforcement, the legal department, parking enforcement, zoning, and environmental health (noise). We will begin meeting next week. I will then ask for participation from neighborhood residents and Greenville property owners, so that we can do all that we can to clean up the area and prevent the kind of violent incidences of last weekend.