One of the top goals of my administration is to make Fort Wayne the safest city of it's size in the country. I'm happy to report this past week has been a good week in taking steps to achieve that goal.
On Thursday, May 16, 2002, representatives from the Allen County Sherriff's Department and the League for the Blind and Disabled joined me to announce an initiative that will improve 911 services. Special forms will be on-hand at 37 organizations throughout Fort Wayne who have committed to supporting this initiative by encouraging those they serve to complete the forms. The forms allow residents to voluntarily provide additional information to 911 dispatchers. This additional information will be passed on to emergency workers when they respond to a 911 call for help.
By having this additional information, emergency responders will be better able to help those with disabilities. However, the form is not just for use by those with disabilities. The form also provides information on any hazardous or flammable materials that might be on a property of which emergency workers should be aware. It would allow fire fighters to know there are oxygen tanks, which are highly flammable, on the premises. It would also allow those people, such as farmers, who might have large supplies of propane on their property to notify emergency workers before they arrive on the scene so that they can arrive properly prepared to deal with the situation.
The forms can be obtained through area organizations serving people with disabilities or on-line at the League for the Blind and Disabled's website at www.the-league.org.
Another exciting initiative to keep residents in Fort Wayne safe is the CIT team. This is a collaboration between the Fort Wayne Police Department and local mental health service providers. Because of CIT, police no longer arrest people just for being mentally ill. Thanks to special training they are able to recognize and deal appropriately with people who struggle with mental illness.
On Wednesday, May 15, 2002, John Hamilton, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) visited Fort Wayne to congratulate us on the work that we are doing. The FSSA, the largest state agency, is the organization with the responsibility of overseeing services provided to the mentally ill in Indiana.
The Fort Wayne Police Department has trained more than 50 officers as CIT members. CIT training allows officers to provide an appropriate response to a mentally ill person who is confused or in crisis. This leads to prompt care and increases safety for that person, for bystanders and for police officers. It also gives Fort Wayne families with a member who needs mental health care confidence in the officers.
Fort Wayne police have found there have been fewer arrests of mentally ill persons since establishment of the Crisis Intervention Team. Police have learned that a calm, reassuring voice, spoken from a safe distance, can offer the comfort and security necessary to avert tragedy.
Captain Dottie Davis, who leads CIT, was honored for her leadership of the program by being awarded the Fort Wayne Police Department's Medal of Merit. I am very proud of the work Captain Davis and the CIT team have done. They are helping us reach toward the goal of making Fort Wayne a safer city for all of our citizens.