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Businesses in Deep Ellum, other entertainment districts, working with city officials to tackle crime

Photographer Steven Briggs
Courtesy of The Nines
Crime in the Deep Ellum entertainment district has some bar and club owners worried.

Business owners in Dallas entertainment districts are concerned about crime. This has prompted a local nonprofit to create a space where city leaders and business owners can work together to tackle the problem.

The initiative led by 24HourDallas is focusing on collaboration, communication and coordination. The group wants to boost the nightlife economy by preventing crime.

“We're hoping that the city will take a more proactive and relationship-based approach with its business owners for nightlife management moving forward,” said Bryan Tony, a project manager with 24HourDallas.

Dallas pub, club and bar owners met with city officials earlier this week for a candid and intimate conversation. The goal of the meeting was to build communication and trust among the groups to find ways to reduce crime in nightlife districts.

Bar owner Brandon Hays said the city is taking “a smart direction.”

Hays said business owners can be apprehensive about approaching city staff.

"And to see a person who has interest in having conversations from those (city) departments really kind of humanizes it," Hays said.

Hays is the co-owner of Dallas bars High Fives, Tiny Victories and The Whippersnapper. He said there’s been a huge need in Dallas for better communication between operators and the city departments.

City staff helped out business owners with some tips to step up security. Several city departments were represented, including the Dallas Police Department, Dallas Fire Rescue, Code Compliance, Community Prosecution and the Department of Transportation.

"Better door security. Have a controlled entrance and exit point. Don't allow people to jump the patio, come in and so forth. Just have a better controlled entry point,” said Dallas Police Department Major John Madison.

Madison said businesses serving alcohol should use driver license scanners. He said this would reduce underage consumption and deter people from committing offenses.

Other tips: Don’t overserve alcohol, do not push parties involved in violence onto the streets and have quarterly or monthly training for security staff.

Phillip Honoré, executive director of the entertainment district the West End Association said it is important to have a unified nightlife strategy where expectations from both businesses and city staff are clear.

“We're hiring off-duty officers. We're hiring security officers. We are hiring experienced security managers to help us collaborate with the city and with all the resources,” Honoré said.

He said meetings like these will be critical to keeping Dallasites safe moving forward.

Hays, the bar owner, said he came out of the meeting feeling like he was part of the process.

“You realize these aren't the big bad wolves. These are just people who are trying to do their job. And it makes it a lot more approachable when they're trying to get your input,” he said.

Tony said he hopes the city will consider a nighttime economy manager position in the city budget this year. He said that manager would serve as a liaison between the city and business owners to improve safety in Dallas as nightlife and entertainment districts.

Got a tip? Email Alejandra Martinez at You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.