By Martha L. Mabry, Crime Prevention Coordinator, Fort Worth, Texas, Police Department
orporate resources are some of the greatest benefits available to local law enforcement agencies. They can help turn small ideas into huge events, take an effort and turn it into reality, and form lasting partnerships throughout their communities with businesses big or small. Ralph Mendoza, chief of police, Fort Worth, recognizes these assets and believes in the importance of collaboration between his officers and the public they serve. With this mentality, the Fort Worth Police Department (FWPD) has begun a new fight against crime with an old friend—Cash America International, a company specializing in secured nonrecourse lending, also known as pawn loans.
This partnership between Chief Mendoza and Dan Feehan, CEO and president of Cash America, came to fruition after a successful introduction of LeadsOnline to the FWPD. Cash America, the owner and operator of over 453 pawn stores, has implemented the LeadsOnline system, a third-party electric data transfer service, inall of its U.S. stores. This Web-based crimefighting tool can be accessed by any local law enforcement agency nationwide, enabling agencies to pinpoint crucial data more efficiently and economically than ever before, and is currently the United States’ largest property crime online investigative system. Through a public-private partnership, law enforcement officials have access to this new, state-of-the-art crime-fighting tool that greatly enhances the effectiveness of property crime investigation, saving staff hours and tax dollars. The LeadsOnline system allows third-party data transfer services to equip investigators with the right tool to catch criminals who attempt to evade detection by selling stolen items outside the city limits in which they commit their crimes.
The passion for combating property crime shared by the FWPD and Cash America resulted in the FWPD subscribing to LeadsOnline, bringing the two organizations together to create a unified front. Pawn detail detectives have too many cases and not enough resources to investigate them. This secure third-party data transfer service gives law enforcement officers a fast and efficient tool that can stop offenders and provides local pawnbrokers with a safe and private way of conveying information to investigators. In implementing this tool and partnering with Cash America and other local pawn shops, the FWPD has saved not only time but tax dollars as well.
National Night Out
After the successful LeadsOnline partnership, both organizations decided to join together again to support National Night Out (NNO) 2005. NNO, a unique crime and drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, is a program that has come to be held in high regard throughout the United States. The NNO 2005 campaign involved citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, local businesses, neighborhood organizations, and local elected officials from over 10,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and U.S. military bases worldwide partaking in block parties, parades, cookouts, youth activities, and contests.
Project 365 is also promoted during NNO. Project 365 asks all NNO-registered communities to find one “problem area” that they want to improve. This can be a park overrun by drug, gang, or graffiti problems or just a rundown section of the city that needs a little tender loving care. The goal of the project is to turn the problem area around in 365 days, when the next NNO event is held. Neighborhoods can include their Project 365 submission in the final NNO report and will be judged along with all other efforts made for NNO.
In all, over 34 million people participated in NNO 2005, with more participating in 2006. Each city competes to be the best, and by partnering with Cash America, Fort Worth was able to take its celebration to the next level. The city not only was able to purchase the NNO Knight mascot but also gained exposure in all local stores and throughout the corporate office for all sponsored events.
The partnership held several eventsinforming citizens of the upcoming NNOcelebration, including a training session with the Texas Chisholm Trail Crime Prevention Association and a family day at the Fort Worth Cats minor league baseball game, where Cash America and the FWPD shared information with citizens on crime prevention tips. The NNO planning committee also hosted an NNO run/walk in Arlington, numerous events promoting the National Child Identification Program, auto theft prevention events, and an NNO parade.
The newest addition to the Fort Worth NNO celebration was the Downtown Kickoff Event, which featured Fort Worth mayor Mike Moncrief, Dan Feehan, Chief Mendoza, and Chief Charles Gains of the Fort Worth Fire Department. The event took place in Sundance Square, which is located in downtown Fort Worth. Also in attendance were McGruff the Crime Dog, the NNO Knight, and numerous officers from both the fire and police departments. Dignitaries closed the event with speeches urging people to get involved, meet their neighbors, and start crime prevention programs in their neighborhoods.
In all, NNO 2005 was a successful venture for both the FWPD and Cash America International. The collaboration between the corporate world and local law enforcement agencies only makes for a stronger, unified front in the fight against crime. NNO gave the city of Fort Worth an opportunity to see old friends, make new ones, and join together to prevent crime.■