Officer Steve Deaton presents Rod Treuter with a Certificate of Appreciation for reporting criminal activity that resulted in an arrest. – photo by Travis Atkins
by Travis Atkins
Sometimes no news is the best news. In their presentations, Officers Jamie Jobes and Steve Deaton highlighted upcoming crime prevention initiatives, but did not mention any crime issues in the Oak Hill area at the APD Region 4 Southwest and Southeast Commander’s Forum Tuesday night.
Other than traffic violations and a few thefts, Oak Hill has been good on the crime front as of late, Deaton said after the presentation. He mentioned the murder recently where a body was found in a retention pond in a park in the Travis Country neighborhood, but stressed the actual crime did not take place there.
“This was most likely a gang-related murder,” Deaton said. “We think they might have been playing basketball at the park there sometime and noticed there was a retention pond adjacent and thought it would be a good place for a body dump.”
Among the upcoming events is Train the Trainer on August 7th. This is a class designed to teach citizens how to form a neighborhood watch group.
“If you’ve never been in a neighborhood watch, you don’t know anything about a neighborhood watch, or you do know a little bit about neighborhood watch and you want to know more information, that’s one to come to,” Jobes said.
The Austin Police Department holds this class the first Tuesday of every month from February through September.
In addition, they are conducting home security surveys where officers will come out to your home and point out weaknesses where burglars might look to take advantage.
“We are not going to make your house burglary proof, but we are going to make it harder for them,” Jobes said. “They may try to hit one of your neighbors or go to a different house because your house is going to be too hard to get into.”
Tax Free Weekend is August 17-19. Officers said they always see a spike in crime at shopping malls along with thefts in general, so they will have increased presence at malls that weekend, specifically Barton Creek Mall and the Southpark Meadows area.
School starts shortly after that and the police department wants to make sure young children get to school safely. During Operation Safe Passage, residents will see an extra officer presence in school zones at the start of the year.
Another topic at the forum was the increasing problem of homelessness in the Austin area — the Austin Police Department is focused on transient relocation efforts.
“Obviously there is a problem with homelessness in Austin and we have all kinds of resources set up to help them find homes and get jobs,” Deaton said. “Unfortunately, a large segment of the homeless want to be homeless because of drug addiction, alcoholism, mental illness, whatever. Those are the people we see on the street corners with the signs. What we can do as police officers is when we have transient camps near schools and businesses where they are setting fires or cooking food, we can make them leave. There are enough city ordinances and state laws on the books.”
Deaton urged residents that have problems with transients or people in general bothering them at intersections, to call the police department at 311.
“It’s not against the law to sit on the side of the road with a sign that says ‘will work for food,’” Deaton said. However, once he’s stepped into the road, he’s technically broken the law. So if you have a problem with a specific individual or a specific intersection, then please let us know.”
A representative from the APD Office of Community Liaison gave a presentation on National Night Out, which will take place October 2nd. National Night Out is an annual event where neighbors are encouraged to congregate on their blocks with police officers, firefighters and paramedics and show their unity against crime.
“Get together with your neighbors and do like in the old days, have a block party,” Jobes said. “Meet each other, shake each others hand, ask how they’re doing.”
Run with the Heroes is coming up September 16th. This is a 5K race and the police department’s biggest fundraiser for the Special Olympics.
“The last two years in a row, we’ve gotten the award for the most money raised by an agency our size, specifically because of Run with the Heroes,” Jobes said. “If you want to walk it, jog it or run like an Olympic athlete, please sign up.”
At the forum, officers also honored citizens who witnessed crimes and called police, which led to arrests. They presented each with a certificate of appreciation for their efforts.
“If you’ve got any doubt in your mind, call us,” Jobes said. “It’s not going to cost you anything and we would much rather come out for something and find out it was nothing, than you not call and find out your neighbors house was broken into.”
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