Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said he hopes the rest of the nation takes notice of what happened at a recent city council meeting.
The council accepted 900 enhanced ballistic vests from the Fort Worth S.W.A.T Support Group Inc. They will be used by front-line officers and graduating recruits in the Fort Worth Police Department.
In November, the Mallick Group, a Fort Worth real estate and energy related investment firm led by husband and wife Mike and Valerie Mallick, donated $355,000 to the group to pay for the vests, which offer ballistic protection against high velocity rounds and armor piercing ammunition.
“We’ve all seen the attacks on police officers throughout the country and the level of weaponry people have used,” Fitzgerald told the council.
Five Dallas police officers were killed in a sniper attack on July 7. Nationwide, statistics show that fatal shootings of police officers are the highest in five years.
The donation launched the Protect The Fort Initiative that was coupled with a holiday Call to Action by The Mallick Group to residents, organizations and businesses to help protect police. Additional contributions will be used to buy enhanced ballistic helmets and other protective equipment for Fort Worth police officers.
“They responded to what they saw and acted. They put together a movement,” Fitzgerald said.
Former Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief and his wife, Rosie, were also on hand at the meeting.
“There are few higher callings than protecting life in a community,” Rosie Moncrief said. “We care very deeply about their safety and their families’ piece of mind.
“We want our men and women on the front line to have the safest equipment possible.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price praised the Mallicks for their forward thinking, something she had also done earlier when the original decision for the donation was announced in November.
“This generous donation from The Mallick Group exemplifies both the incredible community support for our first responders and the strong culture of public-private partnerships that we are blessed with in Fort Worth,” Price said. “I’m excited to see the Protect the Fort Initiative open the door for others to tangibly give back to our officers.
“I trust that these vests will not only provide additional protection for our police force, but also convey to our officers that we as a community support their sacrifice to Fort Worth.”
Fitzgerald said the donation inspired his department and provides a level of support and protection other cities may not have. “It is our hope that others will answer the Call to Action of the Protect the Fort Initiative by participating in this endeavor with the goal of augmenting the safety of all public servants,” Fitzgerald said.
He said this is the largest donation of this type in the nation for a police department.
Moncrief said she and others in the Protect The Fort Initiative are also working on another project to provide even more protection for officers. She said they are raising $234,000 for life-saving helmets.
“Tonight, I’d like to report that we are well on our way to reaching our goal,” she said.
For further information about this program, or to send contributions, donors may visit www.protectthefort.com.
FORENSICS LAB DONATION
The council also authorized the acceptance of a donation of $50,000 from the Robert D. and Alma Moreton Foundation to buy equipment for the Fort Worth Police Department’s Digital Forensics Lab.
The lab processes about 700 investigations of digital evidence each year. This unit’s capabilities are instrumental in supporting all investigative units in the police department and, at times, external agencies. The donation will help the Digital Forensics Unit stay current with advancing technologies and best practices.
HOLIDAY PRESENT FOR CAVILE PLACE, STOP SIX
The council, before taking a break for the holidays, gave residents in Cavile Place and Stop Six a present.
The council approved the implementation of a Neighborhood Improvement Strategy pilot program for those neighborhoods. It includes $2.6 million in capital funds in the fiscal year 2017 budget aimed at increasing public safety, improving the physical characteristics, promoting economic revitalization, proving supportive services to reduce poverty and improving the quality of life.
“The ultimate goal is to ensure an increase to the vitality of our most challenged neighborhoods through targeted public investment that increases overall safety, improves overall neighborhood aesthetics, fosters more positive community perceptions, thereby creating a stronger sense of community by residents, and provides the means to leverage additional public and private investment,” said Neighborhood Services Director Aubrey Thagard.
Though no detailed budget will be released before consulting with residents, the potential scope of the capital investment will include:
*Expanding neighborhood walkability by installing sidewalks, streetlamps and landscaping.
*Improving the aesthetics and safety with park improvements, cleaning up vacant and abandoned property, tree trimming with brush removal and bulk item clearance, and improved lighting at city facilities.
*Identifying opportunities for community projects.
*Implementing surveillance cameras in area hot spots to reduce/eliminate crime.
This is part of the Cavile Place Neighborhood Transformation Plan adopted by the city in 2014. In May, the council approved two zoning changes that would allow multifamily housing to be built along East Rosedale Street.
ROCKWOOD ART PROJECT
The council authorized acceptance of about 468 shares of AZZ Inc. stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange for a cash value of $29,500 to fulfill a pledged donation from Arnold and Harriette Gachman on behalf of Gamtex Industries LP, doing business as Gachman Metals and Recycling. Proceeds from the stocks will be used in conjunction with $21,500 previously allocated from the Public Art Fund for the final design, fabrication and installation of the Rockwood Public Art Project.
The artwork will consist of a bronze sculpture about 6 or 7 feet tall to celebrate the 100-year history of Gachman Metals in Fort Worth. It will be closely based on a form generated as part of the company’s recycling processes, cast from recycled bronze donated by the company.
In September, the city contracted with Nonstop Inc. to develop a preliminary design for Rockwood Park, located at 748 Rock Cress Dr.
A future decision will authorize and execute the final design and commission agreement with Nonstop Inc. in an amount up to $50,000 for the final design, fabrication, installation and contingencies for Rockwood Park artwork.
Also, the public may tour the newly renovated Rockwood Golf Course before it reopens in July. Tours will be offered, weather permitting, at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon on Dec. 21-22; Jan. 3, 5, 10 and 12; and March 7, 9, 21, 23, 28 and 30. Call the pro shop at 817-624-1771 to reserve a spot.
*The council approved an amendment to the city’s 2017 State Legislative Program concerning non-discrimination initiatives to include race, creed, color, sex, religion, disability, age, national origin, familial status, sexual orientation, transgender, gender identity and gender expression.
*In its work session, the council received a report on the Interstate 35 Development Standards and Guidelines being updated to include improvements and clarifications to visual guidance for landscaping, parking, tree planting and setbacks standards; landscaping intent and standards; parking and tree planting standards and guidelines; building and pavement setbacks standards and guidelines; plan submittal requirements. Anticipated public hearings concerning adoptions of the amendment are Jan. 26 with the Urban Design Commission, Feb. 8 with the Zoning Commission and March 7 with the City Council. These guidelines apply to a 2,000-foot wide 15-mile corridor of Interstate 35 from Meacham Boulevard to State Highway 114. It includes many of Fort Worth’s most prominent parks and businesses.
*Also in the work session, council was informed the city net sales tax collection is up 11.3 percent, or $1,154,804, compared with the same month last year. Fort Worth led in a chart of select cities across the state when compared with last year, with El Paso’s 10.6 percent being closest. Locally, Grand Prairie was the closest with 7.6 percent. Sales tax revenue represents about 22 percent of Fort Worth’s general fund anticipated revenue in fiscal year 2017, the second-largest revenue source behind property tax. It also represents the largest revenue source in the Crime Control and Prevention District Fund.