Police work to develop relationships in Dixon Circle community - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Dallas police work to develop relationships in Dixon Circle community

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DALLAS -

The number of crimes being reported in South Dallas' Dixon Circle are up, a good thing according to police.

Officers say it shows the department and the community working together.

That is far different from last July when the area was an emotional powder keg after police shot and killed a man.

Hundreds poured on to South Dallas' Dixon Circle after officers killed James Harper.

Officers were initially called out on an anonymous call four Hispanic men were possibly holding a black male tied up in a home. When officers arrived they found the opposite. Instead, officers found four black men running towards the back of the residence, according to the police report.

One of those running was James Harper. Police chased Harper where they say he fought with an officer several times. The officer, fearing for his life shot Harper in the chest and torso.

Residents angered over the shooting streamed out into the streets. It took officers several hours to bring calm back into the area.

Residents had long complained that the police were never really engaged with their community.

"We had a disconnect. I felt we had a disconnect between the police and the community. We acknowledged there was a problem," according to Dallas Deputy Chief Tammy Ellzey.

The department began a stepped up police presence in the community along with hosting informal chats to connect with residents.

2300 people live in the Dixon community. Police established a crime watch group which helped crack down on drug houses. Officers also reached out to the young men in the area.

"We actually had dialog with some of the young adults who were upset during that time period and we invited them to come to the Larry Johnson Recreation Center," said Sgt. Sheldon Smith.

When the police athletic league moved in trying to establish common ground on a basketball court at first only three or four guys came out. Seven months later nearly 39 young men are participating.

"Initially it was police playing against young men and now the young men actually want to play with the police officers now… that tells me that they have gotten to know us, they've gotten to feel comfortable in communicating with us and being around us," Smith said.

Calvin Carter, a 47 year resident and the community's patriarch has noticed a difference.

" It is sad that we had a person had to lose their life for this to come back together and people started working and trusting one another," Carter said.

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