Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Henry Brings Children's Safety Front and Center

Mayoral Candidate Calls for Initiation of Citywide Safe House Program

Fort Wayne, Indiana –- As students get ready to slip on their backpacks and start off to school, Mayoral candidate Tom Henry today brought the issue of children’s safety to the forefront with a concrete proposal to increase security for our youth and strengthen city neighborhoods. Henry presented plans to work with local school and public safety officials in the development of a Safe House program throughout Fort Wayne.

“"No child in our community should ever be in a frightening or dangerous situation and not have a safe haven nearby,"” stated Henry. "“A Safe House program provides a safety network for our kids on their way to and from school or when they are out playing. It’s simple. It’s effective. It will protect our children. And it will make our neighborhoods stronger.”"

Henry was joined at the announcement by Stacey and Stacy Kelsaw, Fort Wayne residents and parents, who have indicated a willingness to become Fort Wayne Safe House volunteers. Safe Houses are homes, apartments, businesses, churches or other public buildings that serve as temporary safe harbors for children in trouble. When threatened, children in need can run to the nearest Safe House to seek short-term shelter. To make them easily identifiable, each Safe House will be designated with a special window sign or poster. The houses will be staffed by adult,community volunteers who have been trained and professionally screened.

The framework for Henry’'s Safe House program includes these components:

- The City of Fort Wayne will work with Fort Wayne Community Schools and other local school systems, the Fort Wayne Police Department, parent-teacher organizations, and Concerned Citizens’ Watch, as well as neighborhood leaders, to develop the program;

- The schools, police department, parent-teacher organizations and neighborhood
associations will work together to recruit volunteers;

- The police department will administer the program and do annual criminal background checks on all volunteers and occupants of the Safe Houses;

- The schools will help to make children aware of the Safe Houses, distribute maps
and teach them how to use them;

- Safe House volunteers are to provide assistance to children by offering them a
secure environment and reassurance, calling the proper authorities (police, medical,
etc.), and reporting relevant information, such as suspect descriptions or suspicious
activities, to the proper authorities;

- Safe House volunteers are not to get directly involved in criminal situations,
provide first aid except in life-threatening situations, or enforce laws; and

- The Safe House program will employ a distinctive logo that will become a
neighborhood landmark. Its use will be permitted only by volunteers who have
met, and continue to meet, program standards.

The blueprint for the Safe House initiative was created in the 1970s when a similar project flourished here. The concept gained national prominence in 1982 with the formation of the McGruff Safe Houses in Utah following several abductions there. McGruff the Crime Dog is the crime prevention education symbol of the National Crime Prevention Council. McGruff Houses are currently active in more than 600 communities nationwide. The McGruff House structure may be considered as the model for the local Safe House effort.

“"There is nothing more precious than our children,"” emphasized Henry. “"As Mayor, safeguarding them and making Fort Wayne a safer city will be two of my lead priorities. Safe Houses are the open arms to shelter our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. They also send a message to those who would do harm that our neighborhoods are working together to fight crime."

The Safe House program is anticipated to require minimal city funding. It will utilize existing resources and staff, and be incorporated into annual work plans. Across America, safe houses have been shown to deter crime and reduce the victimization of children.

Tom Henry is a Democratic candidate for Mayor of Fort Wayne. He is a successful business owner, a five-term Fort Wayne City Councilman and a nonprofit leader with deep roots in the community.

24 comments:

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Another "its for the children" program.

Does anyone think that a program of this magnitude will require minimal city funding? (If you do please contact me at once, I have some prime real estate for sale in Iraq that you really should invest in)

Minimal fudning in relation to what? Harrison Square?

A program of this type would require hundreds of background checks performed per year. These checks are not free.

If it is run by the police department I can 100% guarantee that at LEAST one police officer (And most likely more) will be assigned to it full time. This police officer would be pulled off normal duties and be assigned to administer this program. (Hint, this means the Fort Wayne Police Department will hire another police officer).

A large amount of training would have to be done for the volunteers and people involved in the program. Annual training would also be performed. (Hint, training is not cheap)

I certainly do not think this is the worst idea I have heard; however, to state that it would require "minimal funding" is highly inaccurate.

Does anyone think that a program of this magnitude would require minimal funding?

Mike Sylvester

John Good said...

Mike - So, for the record, you are pro-predator and anti-children? We can't ensure our children's safety because we might have to pay for it?

Are you even listening to what you are saying here? I cannot think of ONE thing more important than my kids - and I will GLADLY pay for their safety IF that is the way the cards are played.

Jeff Pruitt said...

Mike,

It's the role of government to provide public safety. I'm sure you're aware that there are HUNDREDS of sexual predators that live among us. I'd rather kick the bastards out of the city altogether but Tom's idea is still a good one. Will it cost money? Yes.

I suppose minimal funding is a relative term so perhaps we should all withold judgement until we hear the estimates.

Would the program be worth $10 Million annually - no. But would it be worth 1 extra police officer and some background checks - yes. And I think most people would agree w/ that. Maybe we'd have to not give the next Wal-Mart such a large tax abatement - wouldn't that be a shame...

Karen Goldner said...

This announcement really shows people what kind of man Tom Henry is: compassionate and creative.

On my street near Northside High School, there are bunches of kids who play outside together - it is one of the things I like most about my neighborhood. The kids feel safe and a lot of us neighbors know the kids and keep an eye out for them. Yet, there are registered sex offenders living nearby and that is scary.

I applaud Tom Henry for re-introducing this program to our community. It not only will provide safer neighborhoods for our children, but it does so by truly building community since it involves neighborhood residents.

Good idea.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

John Good:

You comment is most likely one of the most ignorant and misguided comments I have read in quite some time.

I am surprised you signed it. I normally read drivel like that from "anonymous" commenters.

How on Earth could anyone who can read at a 12th grade level or higher read my comment and decide that I am "Pro predaotr" and "anti children?"

What I said, and apparently it went over your head, is that this program will require more then "insignificant funding."

Read my comment before going off the deep end.

If you have a hard time understanding it you might want to ask someone to explain it to you.

Good grief.

Mike Sylvester

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Jeff Pruitt:

A bascially agree with your assessment and I am glad that you read my comments (Unlike John Good).

My problem with the proposal is that it does NOT have an estimated price.

As you well know the City owes over 243 MILLION dollars to its public pension plans and could spend more then that on the CSO problem.

Any new programs that are proposed must have a price tag attached. Period.

Mike Sylvester

Angry White Boy said...

Jeff, safe house programs do not work. See here

John Good said...

Mike - I can spell predator. My point is that you are 100% against anything that might cost you an extra buck. You act like a damned accountant or something! ;)

Angry White Boy said...

John Good said...
Mike - I can spell predator. My point is that you are 100% against anything that might cost you an extra buck


John just cannot see the truth about the downside of the safe house programs and PREDATORS.

John Good said...

Dan - John hasn't even had a chance to click over and view your piece yet, so "simmer on down now"!

But ya gotta admit, Mike's pretty damned tight. . .

Jeff Pruitt said...

Dan,

I've put in a request for information with several cities that do use the program. If I hear something back then I'll post it...

LP Mike Sylvester said...

John:

I admit that I am pretty "tight."

I am a fiscal conservative who actually really thinks we should have a smaller government.

Mike Sylvester

John Good said...

Mike - And I am fiscal moderate who beleives that we should have "smarter" government rather than "drowning it in a bath-tub".

I know from prior discussions we've had that we disagree greatly on these issues. (Bridges & infrastructure - Al Gore's government restructuring - etc)

I agree with you in that government can't solve all of society's problems - I disagree as to the extent which it should be involved.

I also agree that there is ALOT of waste that should be eliminated. Again, I know you disagree, but Gore DID eliminate enormous amounts of waste. That work has all but been destroyed by this administration who, I'm sure you'll agree, has spent more money and added more layers of bureacracy than any other in recent history.

Let's try to work together to trim the fat and waste while funding the important things that government CAN do better than the private sector.

otto said...

"not the best time to attack an opponent" Have we not learned anything from the Republican/Rove slime machine? Appeal to the base and motivate it and attack the strength of your opponent. The guy hasn't put forward a coherent policy position, as evidenced by this crazy statement, but then has pep rallies that he wished for when he was "a walkon at Notre Dame". Save me the point that he didn't know about the "rally".
The ONLY chance he has is to encourage the religious coolaid drinkers and silly ideologues that want to argue pointless points of law. Not a bad strategy, just not good for anyone. But it is not like FW has had any real civic/political culture for years.

otto said...

Mike is right about this bogeyman argument. Money spent to possibly catch a "predator" is very low. If the argument is the common good of children, the argument should be about Medicaid funding and privitazion and the asshat that Mitch gave a bogus spiritual position in exchange for political points.

The problem of good liberals is that if so concerned about the abstract notion of "children" and just not your own middle class or upper middle class children, you would be MUCH more concerned about how Mitch is managing these programs that are reducing basic health programs.

Jeff Pruitt said...

This blogger has railed against Mitch Daniels' privatization effort many times. I also had a post about Rev Latham's political handout as well...

Jeff Pruitt said...

Otto,

I should've linked to the post where I killed two birds with one stone by showing my displeasure towards Latham AND Daniels' privatization efforsts. You can read the whole post here but I've copied a section below:

Latham doesn't deserve a pass because he's a black Christian. He should be held to the same standards as everyone else. The man is getting $60k of taxpayer money and has done absolutely nothing to justify his salary. Should we hand out $60k checks to everyone that "cares about God, his family and all people"?

This is crony-capitalism at it's worst and this type of "privatization" is at the core of Governor Daniels' philosophy. Notice they don't want to truly privatize these services and allow employees to see whatever mental health provider they want. No, the Governor wants to create a monopoly and only allow people to see his choice. And oh by the way, his choice is a major campaign supporter and unqualified for the position. This is the epitome of the modern day Republican party and is a clear sign the party has lost its way with regards to fiscal conservatism...

otto said...

sorry,
I think I read that..just making a point. I just don't think the fetishization of the bogeyman stranger molester is warranted especially when you want to strip them of all constitutional rights...no justification for that.

Jeff Pruitt said...

who said anything about stripping them of all constitutional rights? That's an exaggeration. Also, I don't care if you're a "stranger" or not. If you molest children you're not welcome in my community. Criminals do not have the same right to civil liberties as you and I - and these are, IMO, the dreg of the criminal pool.

When I ask parents if they allow their children to walk to school nearly every one of them replies - "Not a chance". And why? Because of the excessive number of sexual predators we've allowed to proliferate in our community. So when is enough, enough? Are we going to let these miscreants dictate how we live our lives or are we going to stand up and make this community a place that's safe for children?

I think everyone knows where I stand...

otto said...

I don't think you quite understand rights. They did their time-hey had their freedom revoked and did their time not sure what gives you the or the courts to extract further punishment or that it helps society in anyway.

You can raise all kinds of anectdotal crap you want, but over 75% of sex crimes are committed by family members or friends of the family. This hysteria of sexual predators is one of the fictions of the local and mass media because it sells and mobilizes base reactions.

Whatever solutions you put forward, based on your hysteria, are against the basic rights of the Constitution. They did their time regardless of what they did.

Stand up and..bla bla bla..sounds exactly like the ideology of vigilantes and the KKK. Have you heard the case of the kid in Georgia who is serving 20 years because when he was 17 he got a bj from a 16yo?

Hey, if you are a good parent you can teach your children how to avoid the pervs, why fuck with everyone else?

otto said...

sorry, you sound exactly like a KKK grand dragon.

Jeff Pruitt said...

The case you cite would not qualify as child molestation in Indiana.

First it was that I was against all their constitutional rights and now it's just their basic constitutional rights.

KKK? Why not go completely over the top and compare me to the Nazis. You're entitled to your opinion, but I nor anyone else are going to take you seriously if you're going to resort to gross exageration and silly namecalling.

This is the 2nd time you've popped in here and just started bombthrowing. Surely we can disagree and still maintain a civil dialogue Otto. If you don't think so, then I would suggest you kindly move on to someone else's blog or start your own...

Kaiser said...

The thing that I find compelling about his idea is that, in theory, it places some of the responsiblity on citizens, rather than law enforcement.

How many times have we heard people complain about schools not educating our kids, or about the police not proecting our neighborhoods. While we pay taxes for services, it is important to remember that we are all part of a larger community, and the community is what we make of it.

No matter what we do, we can't protect our children, or even ourselves, 100%. But we can do things to imrpove our chances of being safe.

I think that a program like this needs to go beyond just signs in the yard, or on the house. It needs to have a netowrk component whereby all of the participants within a certain neighborhood know each other and have regular contact. That way, if a sign appears on a house that shouldn't have one, people will know about it.

otto said...

Jeff,

Sorry if most post was too strong, but the hysteria surrounding the sex offender issue and your proposal to not allow sex offenders to live..I am guessing anywhere, is the type of rhetoric used by the KKK. Oh, Ok, not quite stripping sex offenders of all rights, just a place to live. Hell while we are at it, let's outlaw murders and to protect the children execute all sex offenders. Does this sound like a strawman slippery slope arguement? I think not given that your argument doesn't seem to be bothered or impeded by the facts or the Constitution.

The issue is a complicated one and easy "feel good" hysterical irrational answers can in fact be quite counterproductive. It is not hard to find some facts on this and not the hysterical myths you are basing your legal/political position. Here is a place to start. http://www.talkleft.com/story/2005/08/25/123/74984