PHOENIX—The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) has received three National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Awards for its innovative community programs: Friday Night Football Patrol, Safe Kids Summer and the “Don’t Leave Me Behind” Vehicular Heatstroke Campaign. The awards were granted in the category of Civic Education and Public Information for the 2015 calendar year.
“Public safety is of paramount importance to me and to my office. If we can use our time and resources as an organization to go out in the community and influence a kid to not try drugs, or help a little one know what to do in an emergency; if we put that message into someone’s mind not to leave their child in a parked car, then we have made a difference,” said County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “It is an honor to be recognized for these efforts, and these programs and others like them will continue.”
Friday Night Football Patrol (FNFP)
The annual Friday Night Football Patrol program runs through the regular high school football season, August through October. MCAO volunteers staff a booth at ten different high school football games over the season. Media Partner KISS FM promotes the game and FNFP on its website, featuring a homepage takeover for the high school during game week and a photo wrap-up after the game. On game night, MCAO, KISS FM and the local U.S. Army recruiter set up booths at the game. MCAO staff volunteers have students sign teen drug-free pledges while KISS FM staff gives away prizes and Army recruiters have physical challenges for the students, such as a pull-up bar or inflatable football toss.
FNFP was designed to educate teens and increase awareness about the dangers of drugs and the consequences of their choices—good and bad—with regard to substance abuse. Parents at the games receive information about having a substance abuse conversation with their kids. More than 20,000 teens have signed the pledge since the inception of the program in 2011.
Safe Kids Summer
The Safe Kids Summer awareness program was created to reach a large number of school-age children in Maricopa County and increase safety awareness in the pool, at home, at school and online.
MCAO volunteers staff booths at different public and private swimming pools each week and ask kids age-appropriate questions about how they practice home, school and pool safety. Kids are asked questions such as, “What is the number you dial on the telephone when there is an emergency?” “What is the first thing you do when you get in a car?” “Should you ever use the swimming pool at your house if you are home alone?” If they answer correctly, they win a prize. If they don’t know the answers, MCAO volunteers spend time with them to talk about these important safety messages.
“Don’t Leave Me Behind” Vehicular Heatstroke Campaign
Vehicular heatstroke is the number one cause of death in non-collision fatalities for children 14 and younger, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Since 1998, 668 children have died nationwide as a result of adults leaving them in a vehicle. News headlines across Maricopa County too often tell the story of young children and pets left in hot cars, often resulting in death or serious injury. Data compiled by the non-profit www.KidsandCars.org ranks Arizona as one of the top five states for these fatalities.
The MCAO knows these deaths are entirely preventable and designed this campaign to help get the word out about not leaving a loved one or beloved pet behind in a vehicle for even a brief period of time. These kinds of tragic accidents occur with regularity in Maricopa County every summer, and some of the most severe cases end up in our office for prosecution. MCAO created a multi-pronged awareness campaign that was launched in the summer of 2014 to educate and inform residents, and it continues this year.
The NACo Achievement Awards were created to recognize innovative county government programs. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has earned 66 NACo Awards since 1990, 12 of these under County Attorney Bill Montgomery.