Maria Rodriguez smiled Thursday at the “Not on My Block” door hanger with the Crime Stoppers information on it.
“Yes, it would be good to have this and anything else to help fight crime here,” Rodriguez said from her Stop Six home near Miller Avenue and Rosedale Street.
Volunteer Debbie Schroeder had just passed out that hanger in the east Fort Worth neighborhood in one of the first measures of a Project Safe Neighborhoods campaign to curb gun and gang crimes in neighborhoods.
On Thursday, officials announced that Fort Worth was awarded a $500,000 grant to continue the Project Safe Neighborhoods program to deter violent offenders in the Stop Six/Poly area and in the Las Vegas Trail neighborhood in the western section of the city.
Project Safe Neighborhoods networks existing federal, state and local programs that target gun and gang crime and gives those programs additional tools.
The grant is one of seven half-million dollar grants awarded by the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Assistance.
In Fort Worth, the grant also will address domestic violence. One Safe Place will implement the initiative in the two neighborhoods.
“Domestic violence drives a lot of these crimes, and that’s why it will be a focus,” said Ken Shetter, president of One Safe Place, which does intake and coordinates services for all the domestic violence cases in Tarrant County.
“The grant will help implement new programs for children who are exposed to violence,” Shetter said Thursday. “We must reach at-risk children.”
From 2013 to 2015, the Project Safe Neighborhoods targeted Stop Six/Poly and south Fort Worth, reducing crime by almost 24 percent in the near south side. In the Stop Six/Poly area, crime was reduced by 9 percent.
But police officials said that “hot spots” still existed in Stop Six/Poly and that there was a high number of violent crimes in the Las Vegas Trail area. The violent crimes included aggravated assault, murder and robbery.
The new grant will focus on enforcement, prevention, community outreach and re-entry programs.
“My office is committed to working side by side with the people who live in these neighborhoods, our partners at One Safe Place and our partners in law enforcement to stop the destructive cycle of gun and gang violence that terrorizes our communities,” U.S. Attorney John Parker said Thursday. “This grant funding significantly enhances that effort in Fort Worth by providing additional tools for success.”
Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said authorities do a better job of deterring crime when they work together.
“As long-standing partners with One Safe Place in the effort to reduce violent crime in Tarrant County, we are extremely pleased the DOJ chose to fund their efforts to reduce gang and gun violence,” the police chief said.
More than 15 federal, state and local agencies participate in the Fort Worth operation of Project Safe Neighborhoods.
After the Thursday news conference, volunteers and neighborhood police officers distributed “Not on My Block” fliers, which explain how to report criminal activity, including the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line phone number.
Billy Wayne Taylor, 52, said he was glad to see the extra effort to curb crime in his Stop Six neighborhood.
“I see a police officer all the time down here and that makes me feel good,” Taylor said. “Many times it’s quiet down here, but you can’t let your guard down.”
One Safe Place president Ken Shetter talks about Project Safe Neighborhoods in Fort Worth crime fighting initiative. (Star-Telegram/Khampha Bouaphanh)