Fort Worth Police holds annual community safety fair

Saturday was fun and informative during Fort Worth Police’s annual community safety fair.

ABOUT THE COMMUNITY SAFETY FAIR

FWPD’s South Division held the event for its 22nd year in one of the parking lots of the Gran Plaza Mall on April 29. The event included crime prevention and public safety exhibits, a children’s area with games and activities, a touch-a-truck where children could explore the inside of a SWAT vehicle, various mascot sightings, health and wellbeing exhibits and financial literacy booths.

Captain Tyson Cheek of the South Division said that the purpose of these fairs is to engage the public in circumstances other than police calls, show that the police are an active part of their community and allow people to interact with the officers on a personal level, especially for the kids.

“These are the types of events that show we aren’t just about arresting or citing people for crimes,” Cheek said. “But, also about helping them avoid becoming a victim or even a criminal if we can.”

Marian Ross, the county extension agent of family and consumer sciences for Texas AgriLife Extension, said the police had a lot to offer to Fort Worth and in combination with the various sponsors at the fair, it became a collaborative event to provide safety education of all kinds to the surrounding community.

“We’re trying to bring safety to the community to let people know that health safety is important, your personal safety is important and so is your financial safety,” Ross said.

FINANCIAL LITERACY AND SAFETY 

Other than public safety, financial safety was another important topic at the event with the fair having an entire aisle filled with booths sponsored by banks in Tarrant County.

Teresa Montes, vice president of community development for Frost Bank, said since April was Financial Literacy Month, they wanted to represent Frost and come out to the safety fair to help and support the community.

“It’s been a nationwide phenomenon that most people, adults, nowadays do not have a clue as to the basic financial saving and even general banking as a whole,” Montes said. “And so, that’s definitely something that we’re here to help people to become more aware of their personal financial situation and how to be personal advocates for themselves.”

According to a national financial literacy test conducted by the National Financial Educator’s Council, the average test score is 63.17 percent of individuals ranging from 10 years old to over 50.

Below is a map of how Texas high school students stack up to other states when it comes to financial literacy:

Montes, along with other banks, came to the safety fair to teach attendees of various ages how to be more financially aware and safe.

“I think that they’re going to find that we receive a lot of important information on how to become financially fit,” said Denise Mason, vice president and community relations officer for BBVA Compass. “And, I hope that they reach out to any of the banks or organizations that are represented here to help assist them in furthering that endeavor.”

OVERALL SAFETY 

But, more importantly, these banks and other sponsors wanted to help promote safety to the local community.

“We also tell them about public safety and family safety,” said Fenil Punnoose, assistant regional vice president of Southside Bank. “And, at the same time, the financial safety and financial needs that we can provide them.”

Captain Cheek said how people in the community can be safe is by doing the things that are common sense to make yourself a “hardened target.” Target hardening, as it is sometimes referred to by the police, security or military, refers to the strengthening of the security of an individual, building or installation to protect them from attacks or reduce the risk of theft.

The basic steps to becoming a hardened target include locking the doors to your car and home, not leaving valuables out in the open and having good lighting around your home. If you can afford it, Cheek said a good security camera or alarm system helps, along with setting up a neighborhood watch and getting to know your neighbors so you can take care of one another.

To learn more about how you can be safer in your community, you can call the South Division of FWPD at (817) 392-3400.