Fort Worth could see five new crime control programs next year if a proposed Crime Control and Prevention District budget is approved by council members.
The $117 million budget, a 23% increase compared to last year’s approved budget, calls for investments in the following programs: community information; 911 call taker; domestic violence victim assistance; gang intervention; and an administrative initiative to help with grant partnerships.
Of the new programs, gang intervention would receive the most money, at $2.28 million. The gang intervention program was previously split into two different initiatives, Comin’ Up Gang Intervention Program and Program Expansion/Enhancement, according to the fiscal year 2022 budget.
An increase in https://fortworthreport.org/2022/05/10/councilman-nettles-starts-gun-violence-outreach-in-fort-worth-schools/ has worried city and county officials, who attribute at least some of the violence to an increase in young teen gangs. The Comin’ Up Gang Intervention Program has six sites for ages 13 to 24, and serves around 2,300 youth nightly Monday through Friday, according to the budget proposal. Staff work with teens on conflict resolution, provide referrals for services and intervene during crisis situations that may lead to violence.
“One of the advantages of partnering with local organizations is their connection to the community,” Assistant Chief Robert Alldredge said. “They live in the area, have credibility, are respected and trusted amongst citizens that live in the area, to include gang members. The community organizations are able to connect with the gang members in ways that the police have historically struggled with.”
The department also wants to invest $868,721 in a new 911 call taker program. A December audit revealed from October 2019 to December 2020, officers failed to respond within 8 minutes and 54 seconds — the recommended time frame — for 46% of high-priority emergency calls.
What are the Fort Worth Police Department’s current response time goals?
Priority 1: 8 minutes and 54 seconds. These calls represent the greatest threat to an individual’s safety. Examples of priority 1 calls include: robbery, sexual assault, shooting, individual with a gun, kidnapping, arson, medical emergency/not breathing, etc.
Priority 2: 17 minutes and 18 seconds. These calls do not present an immediate threat to an individual’s safety, but still require a rapid response.
Priority 3: 52 minutes. These calls do not present an immediate threat, and do not require a rapid response.
Communication employees’ salaries increased by $6 an hour in November, bringing the entry-level starting pay to $25.08 an hour. Its call center is operated by one police officer and 119 civilian staffers, who are tasked with answering about 1.2 million emergency calls each year, according to previous reporting.
“The communication positions requested in CCPD would allow us to keep up with the attrition in Communications,” Alldredge said. “Our current staffing numbers are much better than what they were in the beginning of the year. This has allowed us to reduce the holding wait times and process calls quicker through the call center.”
The domestic violence victim assistance program would receive the second least funding of all proposals included on the budget, at $88,847. Tarrant Countysaw a sharp rise in the number of people killed by domestic violence, now commonly referred to as intimate partner violence, in 2020; a study released by Safe Haven of Tarrant County found 17 people died from domestic violence, topping the previous record of 16 in 2016.
The police department initially received a grant, provided through the U.S. Department of
Justice, to pilot a program with Tarrant County in 2019 addressing domestic violence. Two-thirds of domestic calls to the department don’t result in a report; the pilot was intended to take a proactive approach to those calls and prevent further escalation. Alldredge said from 2020 to 2021, the pilot program served 1,124 people, 69% of whom were minorities.
With the crime control and prevention district funding, the department intends to continue the pilot program, working with the National Institute for Justice and the International Association of Chiefs of Police to evaluate its effectiveness.
“We believe this program has value and needs to be continued as a full-time position for the Victim’s Assistance Unit,” Alldredge said.
Nearly $230,000 is recommended to start a community information program. The money will go toward a civilian position aimed at helping coordinate existing programs and resources and engage community members, according to the budget proposal. Another $301,146 will go toward managing community grants and partnerships through the Partners with Shared Mission Admin Program.
City Council members, who comprise the Crime Control and Prevention District Board of Directors, will make a decision on the proposed programs Aug. 23. It will then go to the City Council for a public meeting and final vote.
Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.