Name: Capt. Matthew Doughney
Department: Flagler Beach Police Department, Florida
How does your agency distribute Project ChildSafe gun locks and safety materials in your community?
We distribute the gun locks in a few ways. We have them at the front desk so they are available anytime to people who want them. This summer we plan to join Flagler Beach’s “First Fridays” event series by setting up a booth to distribute gun locks in the community. First Fridays is hosted by the City of Flagler Beach and has music and entertainment all summer long on the first Friday of every month. It’s hosted right by City Hall and roughly 500-900 people show up to each event. We are always looking for ways to get into the area and spread the safety message.
Why does the Flagler Beach Police Department partner with Project ChildSafe?
Our partnership with Project ChildSafe is a natural fit. For example, how do you provide something to an individual who a) can’t afford it or b) doesn’t know where to go? Project ChildSafe helps answer both those questions. Isn’t this what we are supposed to be doing to keep communities safe from accidents? It is all about keeping kids safe, adults safe, because once that bullet goes out, it is never coming back.
How has access to free gun locks and safety materials impacted your community?
The other week, a gentleman who had seen our ad online came in and asked for gun locks. His grandkids were staying with him for the summer and he wanted to make sure they were safe in his home. With examples like these, how do you put a price tag on that gun lock? Making sure an accident never happens – you can’t put a price tag on that.
How can residents in your community and communities across the country become more involved in spreading the message of safety?
It starts here, at community events and in schools. Early education is key for both parents and children. In our community, residency doesn’t matter. We want to make our area and country safe. Safety does not stop at city limits and bad guys don’t understand or follow city lines. Neither do tragedies. Anyone is welcome to come to us and ask for gun locks, even if you are just here on vacation. Talk about it with your kids and your friends. Make sure they know what resources are available.
In addition to firearm safety, what are some of the best safety practices families can incorporate in their homes?
There are so many things families can do. Crime prevention through environmental design is a basic thing everyone should know. Making sure you have exterior lighting, alarms, having someone check up on your house when you are going away. These little things make a big difference. In terms of home safety, have your family run fire drills with key places to meet up in an emergency. A big issue in Florida is pools. If you have a pool or your child will be around them, make sure you have a gate, or even a fence alarm. Have your kids take swimming lessons and make sure they are always supervised when near water.
These are just a few things, but as a small department, we do the best we can to stay ahead of the curve and be as vigilant as we can be. This is why we are proud to partner with Project ChildSafe.