Recap: DPD meeting on Lake Highlands rapes

safety demonsChief Andy Acord began his remarks with an apology for the short notice.

“After the meeting last night, we heard your concerns and wanted to respond as quickly as we could.”

The large gym at Lake Highlands High School was about half full with residents interested in hearing from Dallas Police about three sexual assaults of women aged 23-33 in their homes over the last month.

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“It was important to us to meet with you face-to-face.”

“Every one of these officers wants to be the very first to get this guy,” said Jerry Allen, City Councilman from LH. “They’re going to get this ‘individual’”, added Jerry. “He’s a punk.”

Acord repeated his urging from last night’s meeting: If you see something, say something. He said the DPD has established a tip line to deal with the LH rapes: 214-670-4415. Homeowners can also receive a free home security assessment by trained officers by calling 214-671-0160 or 214-671-0155.

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“Officers have reported to us that LH neighborhoods are lacking in night light,” he added, “so I encourage you to verify that the lighting around your home is working.” We can dial 3-1-1 to report street lights out, he said, and DPD will also do an assessment to have street lights fixed.

To assist in the search, DPD will add SOAP – the Sex Offender Apprehension Program – to find violators of reporting requirements and see if they fit the rapist’s description. Today, SWAT teams were added to the search and tomorrow, Volunteers In Patrol (VIP) will join the fight.

“We have thrown the whole kitchen sink into this area,” said Acord.

Major Jeffrey Cotner, who said he got an additional tip even while Acord was speaking, believes “somebody out there has seen something suspicious. “

“Every piece of information is extremely valuable.”

Stressing the importance he and his team place on find the perp, he said “Last night I went to bed thinking about this, and this morning I woke up thinking about this.”

Former Councilman Bill Blaydes asked, “Did you interview Hispanics in yard crews and construction crews?”

When Cotner responded that “we’re going to follow the rules of investigation,” Blaydes protested that that sounded like political correctness. Many in the audience seemed to agree.

One woman asked if the additional police presence, while appreciated, wasn’t just scaring the guy off into another neighborhood and whether unmarked cars might be wiser.

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Chief Accord stepped in to say, “there are various activities you will not see, let’s leave it at that.”

A self-defense presentation followed by Dr. Nick Chamberlain (shown in the photo), who stressed that your first choice is always to run away and get out of danger.

“If you have no other choice, go at him hard.”

He demonstrated techniques such as loudly shouting “no!,” pushing away to create space, and clawing with your fingers. Chamberlain will also attend an April 22 “Chief on the Beat” Safety Fair at LHHS from 10-2.

“People walked out of there feeling better about what to do in a rape situation,” said Jeannine Hazen, who attended with a friend.

“I thought it was excellent,” agreed Jennifer Cutrer, “a good overview. They shared as much as they could share.”

“It was reassuring to see such a police mobilization,” added Cutrer. “I’ve never been in a neighborhood with rapes before. The police really mobilized the citizens. They need us to be their eyes and ears. “

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