Fort Worth’s newly formed pandemic response team will continue to actively patrol public areas where there could be large gatherings.
Fort Worth police Ofc. Tracy Carter said the team is comprised of the department's neighborhood police officers, school resource officers and patrol officers.
“Guys have been working seven days a week from morning until night,” Carter said.
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This holiday weekend is no exception. Officers check out public areas and encourage social distancing if they see large crowds in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We have access to people calling in, people on social media, people on cameras. All of that. People driving will say, 'Hey, can officers go check this out?'" Carter saidt. “Our team is all over the city. We’re not just in one place. Our job is, if we see large crowds – we want to address them without a heavy police presence.”
In a particular case Saturday, the team checked in on a crowded parking lot near Sycamore Park. Turns out, people were parked in their cars waiting for pick-up orders across the street.
After a quick conversation with the owner of the Birrieria y Taqueria Cortez food truck, Rogelio Cortez, and all was clear.
Cortez admitted at first, he was confused to see police at the parking lot, but understood once they talked.
“The parking lot over there is full. They get sent over here, and I have somebody that’s going to send them back,” Cortez said. “They’re [the police] just doing their job. I mean, they’re just trying to make sure nothing was going on.”
Early Saturday morning, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price posted a video on social media to remind people in-person worship services are not allowed.
“It will be tough for Easter and for Passover to not go to the church, to not go to the Temple, but to help us stop the spread – you simply have to follow the rules,” Price said. “Stay home. Worship with your family. Watch it online. Listen online or do a drive-up service, if that’s what your church is doing – but you can’t get out of your car.”
City leaders stressed social distancing only works if everyone does it.
“We know that as time goes on, people want to stay. They want to get out, but we’re asking please… just stay in a little while longer,” Carter said.
Though officers on the pandemic response team can issue tickets, Carter said that’s not the goal. He said instead, their goal is to educate the public on the ongoing efforts. So far, he said groups they have had to approach have been cooperative.