Tuesday, July 22, 2008

City's top cop urges youth to stay in school


In the midst of escalating gang violence in the City of Santa Barbara, Police Chief Cam Sanchez told 43 local youths yesterday at the Casa de la Raza Community Center that staying in school and studying hard is key to staying out of trouble.
The city’s top cop said he was proud of the group of eighth and ninth graders, who will graduate from a five-week summer school program provided through UC Santa Barbara’s Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) program tomorrow.

“I’m here for one reason and you’re the reason,” Sanchez said. “I’m here to tell you, you can be anything you want to be; if you respect others and keep going to school. Do whatever it takes to make good decisions for your life.”
Sanchez, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico with his family when he was six-years-old, said he arrived in Los Angeles on a Sunday night, and on Monday went to school not knowing a word of English.
It was a struggle, Sanchez said, but he stuck with it, graduated from high school and went on to graduate from college, eventually getting a masters degree.
Sanchez told the group some personal stories about his father, who he said swept floors for free at an elementary school on the condition they would allow him to take a $5 ESL course. He said his father took a job washing dishes at a hotel in order to pay a $1 fee for the Reader’s Digest book of the month club, just so his young son could have something new to read.
After all of the struggles, Sanchez, who has been a police officer for 29 years, said his father once told him the only reason they left friends, family, jobs and a home in Mexico, was so his children to be educated in the U.S.
He told the youths he is aware many of their own parents have done the same and the No. 1 way to pay them back is to stay out of gangs, away from drugs and in school.
“A lot or your parents came to this country from another country,” he said. “They did it for you. Next time you think they don’t know anything, think twice and thank them as soon as you get a chance.”
Sanchez also told the young crowd about his first brush with the law, which he blamed on his brother. Either way, the two Sanchez boys took a ride to Los Angeles Police headquarters in the back seat of a patrol car.
Sanchez said the incident began to unravel when his mother sent her two sons to the pharmacy for cough syrup. While Sanchez read a magazine, his brother went to buy the medicine. As the two were leaving, Sanchez said they were approached by security and he discovered his brother decided to pocket the cash and steal the cough syrup.
He said the incident left a brand on him and his brother, who is also a police officer.
“There is no such thing as a bad kid, just bad decisions,” he said.
Sanchez fell into being a cop by accident. After graduating from college, he said he and a group of friends often picketed at LAPD headquarters, insisting the department hire more Hispanic and female officers. He said the protests were often the subject of stories in the media, and his grandfather took notice.
One night, Sanchez said his grandfather took him aside and told him he should become a police officer. As Sanchez laughed off the suggestion, his grandfather reminded the young graduate that little had changed as a result of the picketing, and the way to bring about real change, is to get inside the machine.
“I had to be inside to be heard,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez, who wrote each of the students personal letters — a feat he said took him three days — took questions from the crowd.
One student asked what the role of the local police department is in enforcing immigration law. Sanchez said these laws are typically enforced by federal agencies, but some cities have taken up the task. Just don’t expect the Santa Barbara Police Department join that camp anytime soon.
“I have said if they ever make me do that, it’ll be the day I quit,” Sanchez said.
Also on hand were six of the seven Santa Barbara City Council members, who ran late to yesterday’s council meeting as a result of their appearance.
Mayor Marty Blum told the group they are a first priority for the city and if they ever need anything, to not hesitate to call.
The young people in the crowd appear to be on the right track.
Andrea Medina, a MESA program coordinator, said each of the students qualified for the program through a lengthy application process that included a letter of recommendation and a personal essay.
She said the program filled quickly, and in its second year, a waiting list is already growing. She said demand for programs at local community centers are high. Each Friday the students have taken field trips, which included a trek to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
The students take a variety of courses over the five-week period, including English, math and science. After last year’s program, Medina said she was able to monitor the grades of the participating students throughout the school year, and those who took part in the program showed extensive progress in subjects like algebra.
During the program, students also map out the remainder of their pre-college educations in order to ensure they are eligible for college when they graduate.
Leo Adame, a 13-year-old who said he wants to go to Stanford, said he’s enjoyed the “college readiness” aspect of the summer program.
“For me it’s been kind of challenging,” he said. “I know it’ll help me in junior high and high school.”
Mauricio Silva, a 15-year-old who will be a freshman at Santa Barbara High School this year, said he plans to try out for the soccer team and has enjoyed the math and English courses.
Though Sanchez’s appearance was meant to highlight a positive program local youths are involved with, he spoke directly about the three young men who have been killed at the hand of gang violence in the past year and a half.
The oftentimes stoic police chief said it “breaks his heart” when a young person dies senselessly, and when that happens, he takes it personal and wonders what he could have done better.
After one student asked if Sanchez liked his job, the chief said sometimes he does, and other times he doesn’t.
“If I could do this everyday, I would really love my job a lot more,” he said.


Anonymous said...

Oh My God.

This explains everything.

"Sanchez said these laws are typically enforced by federal agencies, but some cities have taken up the task. Just don’t expect the Santa Barbara Police Department join that camp anytime soon.
“I have said if they ever make me do that, it’ll be the day I quit,” Sanchez said."

Time to quit Sanchez!

Anonymous said...

Was Sanchez appointed Police Chief or City Youth Recreation Director?? How about some law enforcement in this town, before these illegals he cares so much about start running the city instead. Everyone is so afraid of giving the Police too much power screaming "police state", but there is no concern about the town eventually being run by gang bangers and drug cartels. Get this Chief out of here and appoint him director of the YMCA. The only way to do that is to get rid of Blum, Das, House, Schneider and get someone in who truly cares about law enforcement. Or... make him help enforce immigration law and he will quit. Unbeleivable.

Anonymous said...

Finally, proof that we are a Sanctuary City straight from the Police Chief's mouth! San Francisco just saw what the end result of this policy is with the shooting of an innocent father and his two sons in their car on the way home from a picnic last month by a known Salvadorian criminal. The Mayor, Gavin Newsom, instead of taking responsibility for the city being a sanctuary city, is blaming the NRA for the criminal having a gun!


This is serious stuff Sanchez and none of us in Santa Barbara want to suffer the killing of an innocent loved one at the hands of an illegal that should have been deported. If you prefer to protect illegal immigrant criminals over doing everything in your power to protect the general public then it is apparent that your allegiance is to Mexico rather than to the United States. This is outrageous. You have no business in the top cop position. Do your job or resign! Train your officers with a 287(g) agreement before the citizens have to come down and assist you out of town.

Anonymous said...

After reading the speech presented it gives some insight into Sanchez' recent promotions at the PD.

Anonymous said...

After one student asked if Sanchez liked his job, the chief said sometimes he does, and other times he doesn’t.
"If I could do this [talk to kids] everyday, I would really love my job a lot more,” he said.

That proves it - he would rather be a Youth Counselor than a Law enforcer. What the HELL is he doing in charge of our Police?

Anonymous said...

None of this is even a surprise. Sanchez has always held allegiance to Mexico. This article proves it. He would rather not do a damn thing about the gang problems that are a direct result of illegal aliens, and their anchor babies.
Time to go run the PD in Ciudad Juarez Cam. Perhaps that will give you a little insight as to what the SBPD will look like in 20 years.