Name: Officer Jeff Butterworth
Department: Sam Houston State University Police Department (Huntsville, TX)
How does your agency distribute Project ChildSafe gun locks and safety materials in your community?
We pass out the gun locks and safety information at various community safety events our department and university host, such as our annual Fall Festival. The university president has directly requested that we distribute the Project ChildSafe locks and information. We also advertise the availability of these materials at our orientations – in the event a student, staff or faculty member wishes to retrieve them from our office. We have received continuous positive feedback from this initiative.
Why does your department partner with Project ChildSafe?
With the recent implementation of the Texas “Campus Carry” law, we wanted to provide our students with a safe way to store their firearms in their residence halls. Partnering with Project ChildSafe has given us the opportunity to provide a free method of education and options for securing firearms for our university community. When we provide this information, we are having a conversation with our community about gun safety, and further building a positive relationship.
How has access to free gun locks and safety materials impacted your community?
Recent changes in Texas laws have increased the areas where firearms are allowed, including on university campuses, so with Project ChildSafe’s assistance, we have remained proactive within our community in addressing safety. The members of our community have developed a greater trust with our department because we have shown them we care about the importance of gun safety on campus.
How can residents in your community and communities across the country become more involved in spreading the message of safety?
Developing a dialogue about gun safety with members of the community will help get the message out. We have to have the difficult conversations with our youth and young adults to enhance their knowledge and awareness of the issues. Social media is a great tool to help get this message across, but it is the personal connection that will ultimately prove to be more successful. As law enforcement, we have to take the initiative to become proactive within our communities. We need to create a positive environment by using communications and connections, which will in turn builds trust with the department and its officers.