Fort Worth Targets Illegal Gambling in Game Rooms
In 2014, the City of Fort Worth adopted a game room ordinance to address citizen concerns about illegal gambling, drugs, and other criminal activity associated with game rooms which are often located in convenience stores near neighborhoods. The ordinance would have prohibited game rooms within 1,000 feet of a church, a school, a residential neighborhood, a hospital or another game room. The ordinance would have further required that game room entrances must be marked as such, have at least one unobstructed window with a view of all the machines, and that owners must provide parking, have fewer than 30 machines on the premises and apply for a permit. The game room owners filed suit to prevent enforcement of the new game room ordinance, and were granted a temporary restraining order pending a ruling on the merits of the case. That case is now on appeal and working its way through the Texas judicial system.
These “game rooms” are more like miniature casinos filled with slot machines otherwise known as “8-liner” machines. Under current Texas state law, 8-liner games are legal if game room operators don’t payout prizes greater than $5. It is against Texas law to gamble for cash in illegal game room operations. With much cash in these illegal game rooms or stores, they serve as magnets for criminal activity. The City of Fort Worth can still enforce state gambling statutes which prohibit gambling for cash in these establishments.
The Fort Worth Police Department has a Vice Unit that targets illegal gambling in these game rooms. In October 2017, the Fort Worth District 2 Council office was invited to observe two raids by the Vice Unit of the Fort Worth Police Department on illegal game room operations. Councilmember Carlos Flores and District Director Pilar Candia along with Northwest Division Commander Pedro “Kiki” Criado were present at two raids in North Fort Worth. One location was inside Loop 820 in the Azle Avenue area and another north of 820 in the Lake Worth area. During these raids, Fort Worth Police officers enter the premises with a warrant and seize the machines from the establishments who are operating illegal gambling for cash operations.
These raids are necessary to fight back against not only the violation of the law on gambling, but also serve to deter criminal activity like drugs, prostitution, and theft at or near these illegal game room establishments. If you have concerns about a specific game room located near your neighborhood, please contact the Fort Worth Police Department at 817-378-1500. Working together, FWPD can continue its successful raids of illegal game rooms.
New Commander Positions in FWPD
The Fort Worth Police Department has created six new high-ranking commander positions. The main focus of these positions will be to enhance patrolling and improve community policing. These new commanders are expected to transform the organization and service delivery to the citizens of Fort Worth. The main goal of this new structure is to reduce crime and increase participation of citizens in crime prevention and reporting.
The commanders will reach their goals in the following manner:
These new commander positions will not be part of the civil service structure, but they will report and respond directly to the Chief of Police which means that commanders can easily be re-assigned or removed based on performance. There will be no impact to City’s General Fund Budget and the estimated total annual cost is $1.2M. The new structure in the FWPD by adding these new positions will be as follows:
These new positions not only bring great benefits to our communities, but they will also bring added value to our police department. These changes will improve communication with the officers and the community.
Our Chief of Police has assigned six commanders to the six main divisions in our city. The police divisions that encompass Fort Worth City Council District 2 are North, Northwest, and part of Central. Commanders were appointed upon proven measurables: prior performance, leadership skills, demonstrated intelligence, dedication to forging COP relationships, etc. The current six commanders and divisions are as follows:
Commander Criado is the youngest of five brothers born in Fort Worth from Mexican immigrant parents. He attended St. George’s Catholic School and All Saints Catholic School until the 6th grade. He transitioned to public school and attended W.A. Meacham Middle School. He graduated from Diamond Hill Jarvis High School as the Valedictorian of the Class of 1989.
He attended the University of Texas in Austin on scholarship for a year and half. He then transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington. In 1993, he was recruited by the Fort Worth Police Department. Commander Criado earned a Bachelor’s Degree of Applied Arts and Science (Magna cum laude) from Midwestern State University. His professional resume is very impressive and extensive in law enforcement. He has served the Fort Worth Police Department as patrol officer, corporal/detective, sergeant, lieutenant, tactical investigations division/narcotics and in the vice unit. Now, he is the new commander for the Northwest Division where he is responsible for the command, administration, training and operations of the division.
He has received much professional training and certifications including:
Commander Criado has been extremely involved in his community through different organizations and by being an active volunteer:
The Northwest Division, our Fort Worth City Council District 2 and the whole city are lucky to have a great servant who leads the fight against crime and in community policing. Thank you Commander Criado for your amazing work and contributions!
Focus on Education: M.H. Moore Elementary School
Thanks largely to highly qualified and trained teachers and staff, as well as supportive parents and community members, M. H. Moore Elementary School in the historic Diamond Hill neighborhood has been recognized for its academic achievement and dedication to community initiatives.
Recently, M.H. Moore was nominated to apply for the National Center for Urban School Transformation’s (NCUST) 2018 America’s Best Urban School Award. While the school didn’t make it to the final cut, it did receive honor roll designation from the NCUST organization. This was a wonderful honor and it reaffirms the school’s commitment to excellence for students and families. For the past three years, M. H. Moore Elementary has been named a Gold Ribbon School in Tarrant County. This means that M. H. Moore has achieved high academic performance despite having a high economically disadvantaged student population (according to the Texas School Guide).
The campus is a part of the Diamond Hill High School pyramid. This pyramid is unique in that all schools are part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) Program, Project Lead The Way. M. H. Moore students love challenges and this program is offered for grades kindergarten to fifth grade. Learning doesn’t stop when the school day ends. On their own, teachers lead various clubs during after school hours based on their and students’ interests. This gives students a chance to learn more about what they may love such as coding, gardening, drama, chess, reading, sports and more.
It’s no secret that M. H. Moore Elementary has dedicated and bright teachers. The campus is extremely proud to have Sarah Martin as one of them. She was named the 2017 Lockheed Martin Chair for Teaching Excellence in Elementary Math.
In 2016, the school became the first Blue Zones Project School in Texas. Students, teachers and staff continue to participate in the Walking School Bus and other wellness initiatives. School administration and staff have helped to implement wellness policies and activities including a school butterfly garden and small vegetable gardens. Students learn about eating healthy foods through cross-curricular lessons while working in the gardens.
M.H. Moore Elementary School is a shining example of our community coming together to advance the educational pursuits of future leaders: our children!
Council District 2 Spotlight: Pedro "Kiki" Criado
District 2 and the FWPD Northwest Division have a bright star that is here to serve and protect our community. Pedro “Kiki” Criado was born and raised in the Diamond Hill neighborhood in North Fort Worth. He has come back to make a positive impact not only with crime prevention, reduction, and enforcement, but to also connect our communities and empower new generations of leaders.
Commander Criado is a highly qualified law enforcement professional who brings 25 years of experience with the Fort Worth Police Department including seventeen years of supervision/ management knowledge with an emphasis on community policing and bilingual communications.
Update on Proposed 2018 Bond Program
After extensive citizen input via public meetings, emails, phone calls, and social media, the City of Fort Worth is moving forward with a $399.5M bond program. The Fort Worth City Council has set the election for the bond program for Saturday, May 5, 2018. Here is a summary of the proposed bond propositions:
Streets and Pedestrian Mobility Infrastructure Fort Worth Proposition A $ 261,630,080
Parks and Recreation Fort Worth Proposition B $ 84,180,600
Public Library Fort Worth Proposition C $ 9,868,500
Fire Stations Fort Worth Proposition D $ 11,975,820
Animal Care and Shelter Facility Fort Worth Proposition E $ 13,770,000
Police Station Fort Worth Proposition F $ 18,075,000
Grand Totals $ 399,500,000
As indicated in our prior newsletter article, for North Fort Worth and City Council District 2, there are many key exciting capital projects. Here are some high key highlights:
(1) Improvements to neighborhood streets
(2) Widening key arterial streets including Cromwell Marine Creek Rd.
(3) Key park and recreational projects:
(4) A new animal care and shelter facility in North Fort Worth (In Council District 7 off US 287). Existing animal shelter is in Southeast Fort Worth at 4900 Martin Street.
The bond program is a five year bond program. As Fort Worth continues to grow, we must invest in both our older communities and newer communities so that there is adequate infrastructure and sufficient city facilities for ALL of Fort Worth. The bond program being proposed will NOT increase the tax rate. Indeed, the Fort Worth City Council recently lowered the tax rate by three cents to 80.50 cents per $100 valuation. Councilmember Carlos Flores is committed to fiscal responsibility and timely delivery of capital projects in District 2 and throughout the city.
© 2018. Carlos Flores. Fort Worth City Council District 2. All Rights Reserved.