TEMPLE, Texas — If you ask a Temple native, or anyone who knows the city, they’ll be sure to tell you the eastside has seen better days.
For proof just look at the old Meridith-Dunbar High School, a facility dating back to the 1880s.
It welcomed mainly African American students for over 100 years until 1968 when it merged with Temple High School on the other side of town.
Now, the historic building serves as an early childhood development center showing things can change a lot.
Few people know that better than Denise Fischer, a longtime Temple resident and the community manager at the Renata Square Apartment Complex on East Avenue K.
“I lived here back in the early 80s,” she explained.
She painted a picture of a calm and thriving East Temple back in the 80s.
Recently, she says that isn’t the case. She explained that she notices more and more crime impeding on the once flourishing streets of the neighborhood.
“Seven months ago, it would be fitting for me to just leave, not to stay because of all the criminal activity,” she said. When asked about the criminal activity she went on to say, “the shooting of guns, firearms, AK 47s.”
It’s a clear picture 25 News brought you back in May when police were looking for suspects involved in a drive-by shooting.
“Literally, [gun noises] are everywhere, not caring, not looking where they're shooting, just running and shooting,” Fischer said, thinking back to when she first watched the surveillance camera video of the shooting.
Fischer believes that because the video of the shooting was so clear, criminal activity around the complex decreased.
Beyond that, she credits the decline to her new neighbors.
“We want them to understand that we're part of this,” Lt. Tim Simeroth, the watch commander for the special operations group at the Temple Police Department said. “We're not outside, we are, actually by being here, in Renata Sq., are going to be an active participant in the community.”
That’s right, the Temple Police Department moved in.
Along with other amenities like a library where kids and teens of all ages can grab their favorite book, a community space, computers with high-speed internet and a commune kitchen.
It’s all in an effort to create accessibility and bridge the gap between law enforcement and everyday residents.
“We're as much a part of this community as they are,” Lt. Simeroth said. “We want them to feel comfortable. We don't want them to feel Like they should be intimidated by the police.”
It’s a partnership Fischer is thankful for.
“Help is here,” she said, calmly. “It's good help and to have the policemen here on property with us, it just ensures it gives us a way out.”
The substation isn’t the first time TPD branched off from its main station downtown. However, it's the first to be rooted directly in the community complex it serves.
The other substation is at a fire department in the city.