The Victoria Police Department’s Community Safety Fair aimed to engage with the whole community but focused on a particular subset.
Adorned with plastic red firemen’s hats and clutching free candy, children engaged with law enforcement and performed on the Victoria Community Center’s stage. Emily Quinn of Victoria said she brought her 9-year-old son to the event to show him what the community has to offer and connect him with the law enforcement.
“He’s excited to see them,” she said. “Whenever he sees them, he runs up.”
Community events like the safety fair are an important way to connect with the youth in Victoria, said Elizabeth Stolte, a lifelong Victoria resident. Stolte was at the event with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She said the organization tries to reach out to the community and its youth to prevent suicide.
Representatives from Court Appointed Special Advocates hoped to raise awareness about their organization, which supports court-appointed advocates who work with children. Lynda Owens, who started work with the organization in February, said this ensures children don’t fall through the cracks.
“They know that they can tell me things,” Owens said about the children she works with. “I speak for them.”
The safety fair and the National Night Out parties it launches in the surrounding neighborhoods are fun for the children, but they also benefit law enforcement. The Victoria Police Department uses this event as an opportunity to address concerns the community raises, said John Turner, the event organizer and crime prevention officer for the Victoria Police Department. He said the community outreach helps everyone find common ground.
“We all live and work and raise our families in the same community,” Turner said. “We all want the same thing: a nice, safe place to live.”