Dallas After Dark: Pleasant Grove residents, police stand up to crime

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by JOHN McCAA

Bio | Email | Follow: @johnmccaa

WFAA

Posted on May 10, 2012 at 10:38 PM

PLEASANT GROVE - Dallas police say parts of Pleasant Grove can be some of the toughest areas to patrol, especially overnight.

However, that doesn't mean residents aren't taking a stand and making a difference.

We spent all night with police and crime watch volunteers and found a small, but dedicated, cadre of neighborhood residents and officers out to prove they own the streets of Dallas after dark.

Make no mistake, crime has driven some families from the neighborhood but Dallas police, buoyed by strong support from some neighborhood leaders and crime watch groups, are already seeing some improvements.

“When we say, 'this area's changed,' the area has changed, but it has some problems still,” said Lt. Charles Epperson.

People are standing up by getting involved.

Long after midnight, Kimberly Stanley greets guests and walks every inch of her property, making sure there are no problems or problem people.

“We're looking for mainly doors open, noise, rooms that you know have not been rented," she said.

Stanley is the kind of property manager police like to see. Other places with less conscientious owners and managers are full of problems.

“Drug possession, prostitution, stuff like that,” Epperson said. “We've had to correct some behaviors up here.”

What has to happen for greater improvement is for owners to take Kimberly Stanley's tough stand against law violators.

“We have rules here,” she told us. “Everybody is to follow by the rules, or they check out.”

Residents like Ted Burns and James Leak, Sr. are also serious about crime fighting and their crime watch patrols.

For Leak, it starts at his home.

“When I walk up on the porch, my light comes on," he explained, walking us through his home. “We try to have everything secured, try to live peacefully.”

Leak has lived peacefully in Pleasant Grove for 39 years and raised a family here. Over time, some neighbors left, fed up with break-ins and robberies, but Leak refuses to go anywhere.

“I could have moved away, but I chose not to,” he said. “You are not going to run me out of my home.”

Midnight to morning, you hear that often from long time residents who, like lifetime resident Darlene Calderilla, have decided Pleasant Grove and the homes are worth fighting for.

“This is my life right here," she said. "Why should I have to move when this is where I live? These are my roots here. If I see a crime I'm going to report it. I work too hard. I'm not afraid. I'm not worried.”

If there's an edge in their voices, crime put it there.

They are the salt of Pleasant Grove, tired of criminals spoiling the meal. However, the truth is, salt in Pleasant Grove, like everywhere else, is much too rare a commodity.

“Getting people involved, that’s our biggest problem," said crime watch leader Ted Burns. "People want to complain, but they don't want to do anything."

That's too bad, because Dallas police and crime watch leaders believe things are improving. Crime is still here, especially overnight, but it is not as overwhelming.

That helps Ted Burns, Kimberly Stanley, James Leak, Darlene Calderilla, Dallas police and all the others who believe in Pleasant Grove to stay optimistic.

If anything, the oasis they have created around them has taught them two things are needed to hold onto a neighborhood in Dallas after dark: Stand up for what's yours and your neighbors, and treat people with respect.

E-mail jmccaa@wfaa.com

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