Tourism arms first responders in Lauderdale County

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – A program to activate first responders kicked off Wednesday morning in Lauderdale County. The campaign is designed to utilize the knowledge of law enforcement and firefighters in a way you might not think about.

On a typical day, the Florence-Lauderdale Visitors Center is chock-full of tourists. Wednesday morning things were a little different; the visitors were wearing guns and badges.

“We need to be an ambassador for this community, and help encourage people to come visit and tour different places and visit all the things we have to showcase,” stated Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler.

Tourism leaders are deputizing law enforcement and firefighters, arming them with information about what the Shoals has to offer. They are groups normally the most visible in a community.

“Well a police officer or firefighter, they are someone who people perceive as safe. So, if a visitor is in town and they are looking lost, if they spot someone like that in uniform they are immediately going to gravitate,” said Alison Stanfield with Florence-Lauderdale Tourism.

A tourist's positive experience with a first responder can go a long way. Tourism officials say it shows the community is open for business to those visiting.

“I think anybody who has had a negative encounter with someone in uniform at a destination, that is probably what they are going to leave that city remembering and might not ever want to go back,” said Stanfield.

Whether it is the fishing or musical heritage, law enforcement and first responders can now be a point of contact for tourists. The “Armed and Fired Up for Tourism Awareness Campaign” is being kicked off in conjunction with National Tourism Week and National Law Enforcement Week.

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