Safety drives discussion at Selmont meeting

Published 10:07 pm Monday, August 25, 2014

Public safety was the topic of conversation during the Selmont Concerned Citizens’ first full meeting Thursday at New Selmont Baptist Church.

The meeting, which attracted more than 35 members of the Selmont community, featured speeches by Selma Police investigator Lt. Curtis Muhannad and Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman.

SCC president Belinda Huff said she, like many residents, had a personal interest in improving public safety in Selmont.

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“Everybody that is here tonight has had issues with your homes being broken into when you are not at home and when you are trying to pay the bills,” Huff said. “My house has been violated now 11 times, so it’s timeout for that.”

Both Muhannad and Huffman spoke about a variety of topics during their speeches and question and answers sessions Thursday.

Fielding questions about a recent rash of burglaries in Selmont, Muhannad said there are things community members can do to see their hometown safe.

“The first thing people have to know, and it might be hard to hear, but its that you can’t depend on the police department to protect you,” Muhannad said. “There are things you can do as an individual, and as a community, to make yourself a harder target for criminals.”

Muhannad discussed the benefits of security systems, motion sensor lights, security bars and organized neighborhood watches to combat crime.

“The first thing you’ve got to do is secure your house,” Muhannad said. “If you secure your place, the thief will move on. And if the next one is secure, too, they’ll leave your neighborhood.”

Of all the tips he suggested during Thursday’s meeting, Muhannad said the neighborhood watch would be the most effective.

“If we start a neighborhood watch program in this community, the citizens of Selmont can help us identify problems,” Muhannad said. “And that will help us catch these people in the act.”

Both men said their departments have few officers to cover the wide areas they are responsible for — something both said could impact response times to 911 calls in the area.

Huffman said efforts by residents to directly combat crime — including a neighborhood watch — would be a great asset to law enforcement officials.

“I used to run around over here, and it’s depressing to see what the neighborhoods have become,” Huffman said. “But, it doesn’t have to stay like that. If everybody gets involved, we can change things.”