New program offers rape exams in southern Dallas for the first time

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By Sarah Mervosh

Sexual assault victims in southern Dallas no longer have to travel all the way across town to get the rape exam that’s critical to documenting the attack and preserving evidence needed to nab the perpetrator.

Courtney Underwood, executive director of the SANE Initiative (center), posed with Dallas leaders and accepted donations for the new SANE program Thursday.

Courtney Underwood, executive director of the SANE Initiative (center), posed with Dallas leaders and accepted donations for the new SANE program Thursday.

The initiative also begins to address a historical resentment among poor and minority residents on the south side who say they aren’t afforded the same opportunities as northern residents. Two hospitals north of downtown – Parkland Memorial Hospital and Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas – already offer rape kits.

“Unfortunately, Dallas has a perceived — and maybe a real — impression that individuals from the southern sector don’t receive services like those in the north,” Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said at a press conference Thursday. “This program gives us credibility. It gives us the ability to stand up … and say, ‘because you’re from South Dallas, you will be treated just as those individuals from North Dallas.’”

Watkins and Dallas Police Chief David Brown joined representatives from Methodist and Safer Dallas Better Dallas, the group that pushed for the program, to make the announcement Thursday.

Offering rape kits in south Dallas has been the goal since the inception of Safer Dallas Better Dallas’ SANE Initiative, said Courtney Underwood, the initiative’s executive director.

“The unspoken, but often resounding reality is that crime in areas saturated by crime and poverty are often ignored,” she said. “The Methodist Dallas SANE program represents a powerful step forward in bridging a dangerous gap in services while also declaring that neither privilege nor discrimination will determine who receives services and compassion.”

The SANE program at Methodist offers exams to men and women ages 14 and older.

Prior to this month, Dallas was the largest city in the United States with just one SANE program. (Parkland offers tests performed by physicians, not trained nurses).

Dallas hospital to offer compassionate help for rape victims

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DALLAS — Last summer, women in the Fair Park area of Dallas were terrified with a serial rapist on the loose.

The man assaulted nine women, but several of them didn’t come forward immediately.

Experts say that’s not unusual. Nationally, fewer than 18 percent of sex assaults are reported.

Advocates for rape victims say part of the problem in South Dallas is there have been no hospitals south of the Trinity River that offer rape kits, which give medical personnel the tools to collect and preserve physical evidence.

But that’s about to change.

In a news release, advocate and rape victim Courtney Underwood announced, “This will be the first time in Dallas’ history that rape kits are available in South Dallas.”

That’s because Methodist Dallas Medical Center is about to launch the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, similar to a program already in place at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Rape kits are also available at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

Nurses with 180 hours of training will collect evidence in special examination rooms. It’s designed for women to be in a more nurturing environment after a traumatic event.

Underwood was sexually assaulted when she was a teenager. “I looked for help in the Dallas community, and there wasn’t any,” she said. “There was no one providing services. I had no idea who to even go to to ask for help.”

So Underwood made it her mission to improve care for rape victims, and has pushed for more hospitals to offer exams.

More details about the Methodist program will be announced at a news conference on Thursday.

DPD’s Metro Task Force makes Outstanding Robbery Arrest

(originally posted on Facebook by the Dallas Police Department)

The Dallas Police Department’s Metro Task Force was successful in the arrest of a robbery suspect over the weekend due in part to License Plate Reader (LPR) Technology. Robbery detectives solicited help from the Metro Task Force in locating a suspect who had committed several motel robberies in Dallas and surrounding cities. Robbery detectives provided officers with surveillance videos which contained the suspect and vehicle description.

After 2 weeks of searching for the suspect, the officers were able to catch a break when they registered a hit on a stationary License Plate Reader. LPR is a tool used by the department which can take pictures of license plates as cars pass stationary or mobile cameras. The LPR’s immediately check the plates to see if they match wanted vehicles.

A series of LPR hits lead the Metro Task Force to the 2600 block of Macon Street. Covert and uniformed officers set up in the area and subsequently spotted the suspect vehicle being driven. Uniformed officer performed a traffic stop and identified the driver as Carlton Morris B/M/22.

Evidence of the crime was recovered which tied Suspect Morris to the offenses. Suspect Morris was taken into custody without incident. He was booked into Lew Sterrett County Jail for the robbery warrants out of Plano, Richardson, Duncanville and Garland. He is also expected to be charged with the robberies committed in Dallas.

Dallas police booster groups donate $350,000 for crime-fighting technology

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Police Chief David Brown and philanthropist Toni Brinker of EPIC Dallas hold a novelty check for $350,000 on Oct. 1, 2013. Brown was handed the real check, which will go toward buying police gadgets, shortly thereafter. (Tristan Hallman/Staff)

Dallas police will get some new gadgets to combat crime in Lake Highlands after two police booster groups presented a $350,000 check to the department on Tuesday.
Safer Dallas Better Dallas, in partnership with EPIC Dallas, presented the check to Police Chief David Brown, who said the technology will be used in two high-crime areas: an area near Greenville Avenue and LBJ Freeway and the area around Forest Lane and Audelia Road.
Hamilton Park will also get a cut of the technology package thanks to a donor’s request, said Gary Griffith, president of Safer Dallas Better Dallas.
The money will buy about six to 10 surveillance cameras, bait cars, GPS trackers for the cars, and two or three automatic license plate readers, Griffith said.
Police have already deployed cameras around Vickery Meadows and Ross and Bennett avenues in East Dallas.
Brown thanked the group for its donation during an afternoon news conference and called technology “the changing face of public safety.”
Mayor Mike Rawlings and several City Council members also attended the news conference.
City Council member Jerry Allen, who represents the Lake Highlands area, said the focus on public safety will tell people that “if you live in our neck of the woods, you will live in a clean, safe and enriching community.”

Safer Dallas Meeting – October 1,2013

Safer Dallas will be having its next meeting, in conjunction with EPIC (Economic Partners Investing in Communities), on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 2 PM at DPD HQ, Media Room, 1400 South Lamar. At this joint meeting Chief David Brown will formally launch the first two TAAG Neighborhood Technology Initiatives (for Vickery Meadow and Ross Bennett neighborhoods) which Safer Dallas has raised more than $300,000 to help fund.

At this meeting Safer Dallas, along with EPIC chair Toni Brinker, will present Chief Brown a check for $350,000 to launch the next two TAAG Neighborhood Technology Initiatives (Forest Audelia and Greenville LBJ neighborhoods).

At Safer Dallas, we share EPIC’s and Chief Brown’s vision for a Dallas where every neighborhood is safe and secure, where homeownership is possible and accessible and where job-creating economic development is not only achievable but sustainable.

We look forward to seeing you October 1st.

Charles Terrell
Gary Griffith