FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Ft. Lauderdale police are taking a hands approach to tackling crime at youth football games held across the city.
Dubbed “Operation End Zone”, police officers make a show of force in the parks as the kids get busy on the fields.
“We’re ensuring the children are safe while participating in athletics,” Detective Travis Mandell said.
Last Saturday, officers made themselves highly visible in Carter Park on West Sunrise Boulevard after receiving reports of gambling, drinking and even drug use during children’s football games.
“Gambling was taking place and they were placing bets on these games,” Mandell said.
Parents and families at the park were very concerned about the illegal activity.
“I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do especially when you’re dealing with children,” said Kimarya Martin whose sons play in a youth football league.
“The problem is the kids are being exposed to this type of behavior and we will not allow that in our community,” Mandell said.
In Operation End Zone, officers use an arsenal of crime fighting weapons at their disposal to keep the peace. From a ‘Skywatch Tower’, in which officers can oversee the entire field, to plenty of officers on the ground and even an armored truck, the police department is making it clear that there is a zero tolerance policy for drinking, gambling, drug use and other illegal activities at the parks during the games.
“You’re here from the morning until the sun goes down its nice to know you feel protected,” Martin said.
It seems Operation End Zone is a touchdown off the field already.
“In the last four weeks of the operation we’ve seen no signs of any illicit activity or gambling and we believe that is in part to our police presence,” Mandell said.
The Fort Lauderdale police department is also asking for your help. If you see any criminal or suspicioys activity taking place, contact their tip line. For the English speaking tip line, call 954-828-5661. For the Spanish speaking tip line, call 954-828-5662. For the Creole speaking tip line, call 954-828-5663.