Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Leaders unveil long-term strategy on youth violence

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

A year and a half after the stabbing death of a 15-year-old boy on the streets of Santa Barbara spurred them to action, community leaders unveiled a long-term strategy to ensure combating youth violence remains a top priority.
In addition to creating the position of a coordination czar — someone tasked with essentially running the program — local leaders proposed hiring gang specialists to work at schools and in the community; promoting collaboration among social service providers; and creating a permanent leadership council to provide direction.

“It’s just a first brick in this process,” Police Chief Cam Sanchez said.
The strategy is still slated for further tinkering, refining and clarifying, officials said, and should remain flexible and open to change if and when it receives a final signoff.
Members of the long-term planning committee, a subgroup of those convened by Santa Barbara city officials to address the problem of gangs and youth violence, envision at least one gang specialist stationed at each junior high and high school.
Those specialists would spend time with troubled teens, helping link them to social services and educational support, said Marcelo Lopez, the city’s administrative services director.
They also would be expected to spend a portion of their time working in the community after school hours.
“This isn’t a 9-to-5 type program,” said Bill Batty, executive director of Family Service Agency.
As currently drafted, the strategy also includes the formation of a leadership council and an executive council. Elected officials, foundation officers and representatives from families, youth, universities and the faith community would sit on the leadership council and provide policy direction, secure funding and measure progress.
Top administrators from agencies and groups in the community would sit on the executive council, offering guidance, organizational support and oversight for the coordinator, or head honcho of the program.
That czar of operation would be responsible for identifying gaps in social services, implementing any strategies such as hiring gang specialists, monitoring and reporting results, and working on grant proposals.
Members of the audience attending a meeting of the strategy committee yesterday morning offered their initial suggestions and criticisms of the draft plan.
Several asked for more community representation on the boards in charge of implementing and overseeing the proposal. Others said the gang specialists should be spending less time at school and more time in the neighborhoods.
Potential funding sources identified by the plan include city coffers, nonprofit foundations, school budgets, businesses, and state and federal grants.
Ensuring the strategy remains in existence in perpetuity is critical, Lopez said, explaining that leaders can’t simply react to each crisis and then watch as interest dies off and resources dry up.
He cast the suggested strategy as a five-year pilot program he hopes city and county leaders on the South Coast will endorse in the coming weeks and months.
Even as they discussed a long-term plan of action, officials remained cognizant of the fact that gang violence may never be entirely quashed from the streets of South Coast communities.
“There will be those who continue to live this lifestyle and commit crimes,” Chief Sanchez said. “We’ll deal with them accordingly because that’s how they’re asking to be dealt with.”
And while acknowledging that crime is inevitable, Sheriff Bill Brown said he hopes the plan will address another serious issue: jail overcrowding. He said approximately 40 percent of inmates on any given day are self-identified gang members.
“Gangs are not really a law enforcement problem,” he said. “They are a community problem.”
He said a blended approach that brings in aspects of prevention, intervention and suppression in neighborhood from Carpinteria to Goleta is critical to addressing that community problem.
He also cautioned against expecting youth violence to disappear overnight.
“It took many, many years to get into this problem,” he said. “It’s going to take, in all likelihood, many, many years to get rid of it.”
After more revisions and drafting, the strategy will be finalized and presented to city and county leaders, in addition to stakeholders in the community, to garner endorsements.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yet another program in which the taxpayers pay someone to do what the parents of these kids are either unable or unwilling to do themselves. Why don't we charge a special assement tax on all parents whos child is in a gang. That would provide not only a financial incentive for them, but would also make those responsible for the problem pay the bulk of the financial cost for the programs.

Anonymous said...

How about sending some of these little thugs back to the country they came from. I guess that makes to much sense.

Joe Folshom said...

Most of these thugs are from THIS country. Their parents and grandparents are immigrants, but they're not. How about we send you back to the country you came from?

Anonymous said...

anonymous 2 makes a good point. most of these thugs are either anchors, or second generation losers. check out the immigration status of each gang banger arrested. I am certain you will find a seriously suspect id.
I refuse to consider anchors as citizens. especially when these losers treat our country like they do.

Anonymous said...

I heard the esteemed mayor this morning on the radio. she talked about youth leaders, schools district, and actual educators being involved with the implamentation of the "dress code". how about getting the parents of these gang bangers into the school, and talk to them?!
stop wasting everyones time, and go directly to the source.
the leaders in this city are such pansies. I am sure it has nothing to do with our police chief being an anchor baby himself....

Anonymous said...

Respect is no longer taught to children. Tolerance, manners, and self appreciation either. If basic values are taught by the PARENTS and PARENTS make the children responsible for their actions starting at a young age we wouldn't have so many rude, lazy, inconsiderate, selfish, irresponsible children who want to blame society for the wrong they've done.
It seems people only want to talk of gangs and associate it to Hispanic children.
What about taggers, which are non-gang members, most of them are white. They may be ignored by the parents, who knows.
White supremacists, like Arian nation or the KKK, they are obviously all white and not taught basic moral values.
White, black, green, blue even polka dot are all welcome here. That's what created America.
Everyone has a purpose and can make this place better and it all starts with what and how you are taught. Get the PARENTS back to teaching values again. Get the children to take responsibility for their actions.

Joe Folshom said...

Anchor Babies?? Come on. Unless all you Anonymous commentators are 100 percent native America, you, too, are anchor babies. Maybe fifth, sixth or seventh generation, but still anchor babies. I'm not trying to defend these kids' action by any means. I just think the ignorant view that we can just toss them all on their asses back in Mexico is laughable. If they're here illegally, fine, send them home, but most of them are here legally, so now what? Just think about it, there's no easy solution.

Anonymous said...

Well they should deport all parents of gang bangers if illegal. Its one thing they break the law and come here but to burden the public with babysitting their delinquent children is another thing.

They have been fighting a dress code saying it is profiling. We have a Mexican / Chicano problem. Its not white, black or asian kids doing these things.

This is so ludicrous. The San Marcos and SB High districts are drawn along gang boundaries!!! How crazy is that? The local Mexican / Chicanos are in denial and think that their shaved headed tatted kid who wears baggy clothes isn't in a gang because he told his parents so.

These parents refuse to be realistic and control their kids. Well keep it up and they'll be in jail or dead. Hopefully dead as it costs taxpayers less and cleans up the rifraff.

Anonymous said...

I think it's more that the gang boundaries are drawn on Santa Barbara/San Marcos districts, not the other way around.

This is Santa Barbara, not East LA, the majority of these gang bangers are here legally.