What does the DPD say about the homeless and panhandling crisis in Dallas? We found out.

On Tuesday, 10/19/21, Keep Dallas Safe reached out to the DPD asking to speak with someone regarding the issue of illegal camping and panhandling in Dallas. Our call was promptly returned, and we learned quite a lot about what the DPD is doing to solve the problem, and where their hands are tied.

The first thing the Sergeant told us, is that panhandlers congregate where they will make money. They panhandle because it works. If they were unable to sustain their lifestyle by begging, they wouldn’t do it. They are asking all Dallas residents and visitors to please refrain from giving money, even when you believe it will be helpful.

Next, they explained that the OHS, or office of homeless solutions, is out in the city, at least 2x a day, 5-7 days a week clearing illegal camps from all the public property they can. They have more of a challenge when it comes to private property but explained that they work hard to ensure the private business owners acquire contract workers to get the areas cleaned up. While they are able to remove items and ask people to leave, it is a NON ARRESTABLE OFFENCE, unless of course, a crime is being committed.

Clean up crews are assisted by DPD officers and homeless solutions counselors, who direct the homeless campers to resources for food, jobs and shelter. He explained that it is extremely rare for them to accept the offered help.

They are then issued a criminal trespass warning, which remains active for 60 days only. After that, the process begins again. He said those living on the streets are well versed in the laws and use that to their advantage.

On the issue of panhandling, the Sergeant explained that while there is an ordinance in Dallas that penalizes panhandling, a 2018 lawsuit brought by homeless “advocates” insisting that panhandling is “free speech” has prevented the execution of the penalties. He said the city is working diligently to get the court case settled while they pursue potential loopholes to allow for citations and arrests.

He offered a few interesting solutions that directly involve the community, and we are working to partner with the DPD and the OHS to speed up the process of cleaning encampments and provide monthly meetings in all Dallas jurisdictions so coordination can take place and action completed.

Coming up: Join us for a meeting with the Sergeant, invited council members, OHS leadership and your neighbors for a community action plan event at the end of the month. Details to come before the end of the week.

We are still looking for your Timestamped photos of illegal encampments, or photo with the address in the comments. We send these photos to the DPD, the councilmember in the area and the OHS so they can add them to their clean up list.

They’ve advised residents also call 311 with this information, and of course, 911 for any emergencies.

Thank you for helping us #KeepDallasSafe

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