Residents seek to better FD

More than 2,000 Fort Dodge residents are looking to take back their community and find ways to make the city a safer place.

Following two shootings on Sunday and Monday, a closed Facebook group was created and already had 2,200 members by Tuesday night.

“It brought tears to my eyes when I looked at (the group) this morning,” said Tena Hovey, who started the “Taking Back Our Community!” group Monday. “We’re going to be able to do this; it’s going to work.”

The goal of the page is to create a dialogue and to find ways to curb violence and other crimes in Fort Dodge.

Hovey often sees people complain about “Dirty Dodge” on Facebook, but said those people aren’t the ones who will make Fort Dodge a better place to live.

“If you love your town like you say you love your town, then you have to get out and help,” she said. “You can’t be behind a keyboard. You have to get up and do something too.”

This is why there is a meeting set 6 p.m. Aug. 25 at Athletics For Education and Success ,712 Third St. NW.

“That first meeting might be chaotic and hectic, but it’s just to get information and figure out what’s our first step,” she said. “It’s not going to happen overnight.”

At that meeting, Hovey encourages anyone who wants to help out to attend.

They will have the chance to hear from law enforcement and city officials and begin a dialogue to find solutions.

“I’m encouraged by this,” said Fort Dodge Police Chief Kevin Doty. “Any time we can get members of the community to start a dialogue that helps to bring everyone together and start thinking of solutions, that’s a good thing.”

Doty said law enforcement will be at the meeting and they will be able to explain how the community can help hold criminals accountable.

“Ninety percent of the time when an incident happens, our officers are not there,” he said. “We have to depend on that neighborhood to give us the information that helps facilitate charges being filed and holding whoever did the crime accountable.”

Without that information, it can be difficult for police to actually find who did the crime.

“If the people who live there hold the hold people accountable for what they are doing, that’s going to help to make that neighborhood safer,” he said. “It takes all of us. I see us as a Police Department as facilitators for the neighborhoods. We can’t do it by ourselves.”

Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich agreed.

“I think it’s great when the public wants to get engaged in public safety,” he said. “That’s one of our goals when working with public safety.”

Bemrich said the city already has things such as Citizens Academy and Neighborhood Watch programs, which have both been discussed in the Facebook group.

Bemrich said he will be at the meeting and wouldn’t be surprised if members of the City Council were also there.

“I think it’s great when we get local people get engaged,” he said. “This is how we move our community forward and make it a better place.”