Police increase presence in Oak Lawn

Groups hanging out in parking lots appear to have moved elsewhere



Dallas Police Department officers have cited Havana twice this summer for allegedly allowing customers to dance when the nightclub does not have a dance hall license. The cases are pending in Dallas Municipal Court.

An increased police presence in the Oak Lawn entertainment district appears to be discouraging groups of people from hanging out in parking lots after businesses close and disturbing neighbors, according to a police official.

Keith Allen, interactive community police officer for Oak Lawn, said plain clothes and uniformed officers have spent more time in the area since members of the Oak Lawn Apartment Managers and Stakeholders Crime Watch group asked for help from police officials last month.

“Everybody seems to be very pleased with the efforts we’ve put in,” Allen said. “Order has been restored a little more. People aren’t hanging out causing problems with loud noise and drinking.”

Allen said the police department is committed to providing a safe environment for patrons in the entertainment district and an atmosphere where businesses can thrive.

“Obviously, we’re not oblivious to the fact that we have a role in the economic engine of any neighborhood,” Allen said.

Allen added that overall crime in the immediate area of the entertainment district is down for the first half of the year, compared to last year, by 16 percent. Violent crime is down 43 percent and property crime is down by 9 percent, he said.

“The biggest decrease has been in the robbery of individuals,” Allen said.

Lee Daughtery, owner of Alexandre’s, said he has seen some improvement during the past two weeks. People were congregating in his parking lot after the nightclub closed for the evening and the staff was gone.

“Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen it get slowly better,” Daughtery said. “It does have some way to go. I hope it gets better.”

Allen said complaints from the neighborhood led to police inspecting and citing the nightclub Havana for allowing dancing when it does not have a dance hall license. Citations were issued to the bar on June 16 and June 22. On the last occasion, the nightclub’s manager was taken to jail.

“Our folks went in there and discovered people dancing both inside and out on the patio,” Allen said. “They do not have a permit to operate a dance hall. To operate one illegally when everyone else along Cedar Springs seems to be able to follow the rules is unacceptable.”

The cases against Havana are pending in Dallas Municipal Court.

Members of the Oak Lawn crime group said an unruly group sometimes congregates on the patio in front of Havana’s and causes problems in the neighborhood when they leave the club.

Eddie Ortega, manager of Havana’s, declined to comment on the municipal cases but said he was unaware of any complaints about the nightclub’s patrons.

“If somebody has a complaint my door is open, but this is the first time I have heard something,” Ortega said. “I’m happy to help and cooperate.”

Ortega, who described the nightclub as a family business, said he was not invited to the meeting between crime watch group members and police officials. Crime watch officials said they invited the operators of all businesses in the area of concern to the meeting, but Daughtery complained he was also unaware of it.

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 11, 2006.

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