City Council approves continuing Gang Violence Prevention program

February 05, 2003
Santa Paula City Council
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesContinued participation in a state anti-gang program paid for with special grant monies was approved by the City Council at the Jan. 21st meeting.The council first approved participation in the Gang Violence Prevention Grant Program in June 2001, according to the report by Police Chief Bob Gonzales. The grant, this year set at $63,000, pays the salary of an interim police officer and past funds have also been used for the purchase of a police vehicle for use by the Enforcement Team, comprised of a SPPD officer and a Ventura County probation officer.“This program targets a caseload of high-profile gang-involved probationers and other gang members who negatively affect the quality of life in Santa Paula,” reported Chief Gonzales. “The program is highly successful and has thus far resulted in 88 arrests for offenses including curfew, drugs and probation violations.”Objectives of the grant are to afford high-visibility of targeted areas by police and probation officers during the evening hours; ensure that probationers are visited by officers two times weekly at home, usually during the evening hours; and aggressive curfew enforcement.
In addition, violations of probation conditions are dealt with quickly. Officers work closely with the Santa Paula school-based probation officer to ensure that the probationer is enrolled in and attending school; in addition, gang training and assistance in prosecution are part of the program.Since the program was implemented, the number of probationer contacts has risen, there have been more probation searches at those with gang-ties and referrals to community-based organizations for intensive counseling and therapy programs have increased.There has been an improvement in school attendance of probationers since the program began along with increased arrests of gang-involved youth for violation of probation pertaining to continued gang behavior.

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