9/8/2011 : Caddo Parish Sheriff's Safety Town opens doors for fourth school year
Unintentional injury is the leading killer of children in the U.S. ages 1-14. Each year, more children die from unintentional injury than from all childhood diseases combined.  Adults often take basic safety skills for granted.  But these same skills, if emphasized, could prevent countless needless deaths.  In fact, it is estimated that as many as 90% of unintentional injuries can be prevented.

Armed with these statistics and his own personal experiences in his community, Sheriff Steve Prator spent over three years developing Sheriff’s Safety Town in Caddo Parish.  In this child-sized town with miniature streets, buildings, crosswalks, and working traffic lights, students can practice important safety skills, and learn how to react in emergency situations. This hands-on environment provides students with lasting impressions that cannot be taught from a textbook alone. 

Sheriff Prator knew that the most effective way to make an impact on unintentional injuries in Louisiana was to educate through experience.  “You can tell them something all day; but when you show them, then that is the key,” said Prator.

Safety Town opened its doors in 2008, welcoming in 4,252 students from Caddo, Bossier, and DeSoto Parishes.  This was made possible through a first of its kind partnership.  The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office partnered with the local school system making it a requirement for all second grade students to participate in a two week safety curriculum in school and attend a mandatory field trip to Safety Town.

Since its inception, Safety Town has grown exponentially.  Now in its fourth school year in operation, Safety Town will be opening up its doors to an expected 5,941 students from eight different parishes and five Texas counties.  Safety Town has also expanded their curriculum in order to reach out to all age groups, offering 18 different programs such as pedestrian safety, vehicle safety, bicycle safety, gun safety, and poison safety, to name a few.  By offering such a wide array of programs, and by opening its doors to a variety of events during off-season times like summer and weekends Sheriff’s Safety Town has been able to educate over 25,000 visitors touching all ages from 3-92.

Safety Town’s success is largely due to the fact that it is a community collaboration.  Businesses and organizations throughout the community provide sponsorship, and the facility is staffed year-round by the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, Shreveport Police Department, and the State Police.  The Shreveport Fire Department also assists during the school year.  This collaboration between agencies and the private business sectors serves as a testament to the community’s commitment to children’s safety.

Sheriff Prator’s vision continues to expand to meet the community’s needs.  The most recent program under development addresses drunken and distracted driving among teenagers.  Businesses have donated a utility style vehicle and “drunk driving goggles” which simulate what a driver sees when they are intoxicated, which will allow teens to see the dangers of drunk driving through a simulated experience in a safe environment.  Sheriff’s Safety Town staff is now in the process of developing the curriculum to enhance their simulated experiences.

Safety Town’s unique model inevitably will continue to grow, setting the trend for future safety programs throughout our state and nation.  Both children and parents will reap the benefits of this growth as Safety Town reaches out to its community-touching lives, and perhaps saving them.

Lauren Labbé Meher
Communications Director

      1175 Nicholson Drive | Baton Rouge, LA 70802 | t. 225.343.8402 | f. 225.336.0343
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