If you’ve been on social media at all, you have probably come across one of Nick Novello’s comments or posts about the Dallas Police Department. A veteran officer, he’s kind of known for not holding his metaphorical tongue when it comes to hot takes on policing.

Yeah, you’ve probably heard of Nick Novello.

An officer with the Dallas Police Department since 1982, the former Navy recruit and Bronx-born cop has been speaking out for several years now on critical police shortages and under-staffing in Dallas. He criticized former Chief Brown for what he felt was grandstanding after the July 7, 2016 shooting ambush of five DPD officers. He says does not see Chief Hall as much of an improvement.

Now Novello is writing a book and producing a documentary called “Dallas is Dying,” in a similar vein as a movie produced called “Seattle is Dying.” His premise: Lack of respect for police and policing in Dallas, lack of strong leadership, plus a high concentration of poverty has resulted in unprecedented high crime for a city of 1.4 million that soon, he says, will no longer be just in places like South Dallas, where high concentrations of poverty and opportunity gap persist.

Sen. Ted Cruz and Novello

The city saw evidence of that with a record number of murders the month of May, more than the city has seen in almost two decades.

Novello has acquired a significant following across town — north and south — of individuals he says are willing to pitch in. He namechecks people like Susan Fountain with Citizens Matter, Troy Jackson with the South Dallas County Republican party, investor/radio host Eugene Ralph.

He has spoken to many groups — conservatives, liberals, homeowners and the country club set. He is known in Highland Park, Preston Hollow, and North Dallas. Novello says that some groups have tried to make him a political pawn, but he won’t have it.

He does agree with the Dallas Police Association, of which Novello is a member, who endorsed Scott Griggs in the current mayoral election, and says that Griggs is supporting the facts, but feels Eric Johnson doesn’t understand the crisis. It’s so bad that this week Gov. Greg Abbott offered to make the resources of the state (including the Texas Department of Public Safety) available to quell any increase in murders in Dallas.

The Dallas Police Department is not exactly thrilled about his negative messaging, he said, but they have not shut him up, though one of his superior officers was moved after Novello addressed the Dallas City Council this spring.

And the Dallas Police Association doesn’t seem to be countering any of his claims.

“What’s right is right,” said Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, told the Dallas Morning News. “I appreciate the fact Nick Novello is doing what he feels is right in giving the correct information to the council and letting them know what’s truly happening out there.”

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At last night’s debate between District 13 Dallas City Council member Jennifer Gates and former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, I fully expected the political point-scoring and backbiting that is politics. What I didn’t expect was the paucity of actual answers to questions. Part of that rests on moderator Tim Rogers for not calling out either candidate for being non-responsive to his questions. Each question was supposed to net both candidates 90 seconds to respond. With such a short time, you’d think they’d get to the meat of an answer. Not really.

Instead, we saw an hour of political brinksmanship with little hard substance from either candidate. One of two things was behind this – either they had no detailed answers, or more likely, those answers were thought to be unpalatable to voters. As you will read, I’m not afraid of unpalatable.

But before I go there, Miller’s opening remarks contained one of the few truthful moments. She described herself as someone of “action” compared to Gates’ “indecision.” While Miller meant this as a dig at Gates, I saw the opposite. Gates’ appearance of indecision comes from her wanting information to help guide a decision. For example, within PD-15,  Gates has spent two years trying to reach a compromise. Only after two committees devolved into factions did she finally ask city staff to come up with something.

Compare that to a quick-to-judge, uncompromising Miller, whom I’ve seen in action on the Preston Center Area Plan committee, the proposed Preston Center skybridge, Highland House, and now PD-15. She’s someone who doesn’t allow new information to cloud her initial judgment. I have the patience for those trying to learn more to get a better result.

In a more visceral display, before the debate, Laura Miller asked me to carry her suitcase to the stage (seen in photo) while Gates glad-handed me as she did many in the room.  To Gates, I was a constituent, to Miller, a lackey, apparently.

Roads are Bad and You Don’t Pay Enough Tax

The topic of roads came up … (more…)

Oak Lawn Heights

A hail of early morning gunfire disrupted and terrified residents on one street in Oak Lawn Heights Sunday (photos courtesy Sharmin Ashtaputre)

Sharmin Ashtaputre’s family has never really felt unsafe in their Oak Lawn Heights neighborhood in the four years they’ve lived there. But early Sunday morning, that sense of safety was shattered as bullets rained down in their daughter’s nursery.

“At 5:30 a.m. today, we were woken up by what sounded like fireworks,” Ashtaputre said. “Well, it was two moving cars shooting at each other, and they picked our street.”

“My husband and I woke up within the first couple of shots and there were over 40.” (more…)

Crime Tape 1

[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2018! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at CandysDirt.com!]

From Jon Anderson: Back in May, I wrote a pair of posts covering high-rise and citywide crime.  We are faced with a never-ending, fear inducing news cycle that wants to paint crime as being rampant.  What I found is that it’s not … by a long shot.  Since then, I’ve continued reading and found a BBC report that wonders if the abolishment of lead in gasoline was tied to reduced crime (and it’s increase in the first place).  It’s a fascinating lens through which to re-read my columns on crime.


“The infectiousness of crime is like that of the plague” – Napoleon

“The infectiousness of crime reporting is like that of the plague” – Me

Crime or rather the perception of crime is of importance to all homebuyers and tenants.  Earlier this week, I wrote about crime and security in high-rises.  To ensure the rest of you don’t feel left out, here’s the bigger picture … and if surveys are right, the majority of you are about to be surprised.

(more…)

Crime Tape 1

“The infectiousness of crime is like that of the plague” – Napoleon

“The infectiousness of crime reporting is like that of the plague” – Me

Crime or rather the perception of crime is of importance to all homebuyers and tenants.  Earlier this week, I wrote about crime and security in high-rises.  To ensure the rest of you don’t feel left out, here’s the bigger picture … and if surveys are right, the majority of you are about to be surprised.

(more…)

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 11.28.42 AM

You wonder, given that we are down the number of police available to chase down criminals or respond to emergencies. We are lacking about 600 officers in Dallas. As a general rule of thumb, a city needs about 3 officers per 1,000 people to keep peace and safety. Last year Dallas had 2.94 per 1000, and this year we have 2.5. How does that compare to Plano, Frisco and McKinney? Good question, I’ll dig. Our response times are also up, too. This in a city where police have been violently attacked for three consecutive years, beginning with the attack on the Jack Evans Police headquarters in 2015, and the downtown shootings of July 7, 2016.

And then, this weekend, someone was trying to, yet again, attack our police. There was targeted gunfire aimed at the South Central Substation. Nine rounds of gunfire were shot, likely from a high power rifle, and one narrowly missed an officer’s head.

Unfortunately, the station is missing the ballistic glass, fencing and other security measures police were promised more than a year ago… and after all these deadly attacks.

City Councilman Phillip Kingston was the lone voice from City Hall calling for more security for these police stations.  (more…)

Martha Teran

Martha Alice Teran, a Dallas Realtor with Dallas-based Gilchrist & Company, was shot to death in the parking lot of Medieval Times Sunday night. Teran, age 42, was apparently helping her daughter sell an iPhone 7 though the “OfferUp” exchange ap:

Teran’s family said Monday there were likely three suspects and when they contacted Teran through the app, they initially wanted to meet at another location. She refused and instead met them in the parking lot outside of Medieval Times just off of Interstate 35. According to the victim’s family, the shooting happened within seconds and Teran’s daughter was a witness. They say there was little-to-no communication before shots were fired.

Teran had worked with Gilchrist & Company for almost two years. Shot at about 6p.m, Teran was transported to a hospital where she later died. Her daughter witnessed the horrific event:

According to the victim’s family, the shooting happened within seconds and Teran’s daughter was a witness. They say there was little-to-no communication before shots were fired.

According to reports, the suspects tore off after the shooting, and DPD has released no information as of yet. They do ask that anyone with any information about the crime call Det. Scott Sayers at 214-671-3647, or email scott.sayers@dpd.ci.dallas.tx.us.

Crime Stoppers offers awards up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest and indictment.

Teran’s broker, Tom Gilchrist, like most of the Dallas real estate community,is in shock.

“She had good people skills, always happy,” Gilchrist said. “Just a smart gal, and eager to please.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Teran’s family, which has already pulled in almost $4500. We will keep you posted on further developments in this story.Martha Teran RE shot

4311 Brookview Beltre House

Aidrian Beltre’s Bowling Greenwood home. (Photo: Google Maps)

Of all the things to take from Adrian Beltre’s Bowling Greenwood mansion, the burglars who burgled the Rangers third-baseman’s home took tickets to his Globe Life Ballpark suite and his American League Championship ring according to this SportsDay post.

No untraceable electronics. No silver. No artwork. And no one was caught.

Sounds kind of personal, doesn’t it?

According to City of Dallas police reports, Beltre’s home was burglarized last Thursday morning shortly after he left for the Rangers’ homestand finale against Oakland. Nobody was in the house at the time. Beltre’s family is still in Southern California.

The police report cites the theft of precious metals and jewelry. Beltre, who only briefly returned home before the Rangers’ flight to Toronto last Thursday evening, said among the items taken was his 2011 AL Championship ring. Beltre also said the thieves made off with tickets to his suite at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

“I’d like to see them show up there,” Beltre said. “I’m just glad nobody was home.”

Adrian Beltre (Photo: Wikipedia)

Adrian Beltre (Photo: Wikipedia)

I am truly baffled by this break-in, not just because of the items taken from Beltre’s stone-clad two-story at 4311 Brookview Drive, but over how someone could get away with such a crime. This area has so very little crime thanks to the off-duty Dallas Police patrols in the area and the overall watchfulness of neighbors, so I have to wonder if this doesn’t send some homeowners scrambling to update their security systems. Some say biometric security is becoming more common …

Adrian and Sandra Beltre’s 8,204-square-foot home has five bedrooms, five full and two half baths, three fireplaces, and a backyard pool all on a 3/4 of an acre. DCAD says it’s worth more than $3 million.