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Additional efforts will be made by the Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento Sheriff's Department to prevent youth involvement in gangs by promoting interactions between police officers and the youth. The mayor is calling this approach a paradigm shift, and it will be part of Sacramento's first comprehensive plan for gang prevention, Mayor Kevin Johnson announced Tuesday at the Boys & Girls Club on Lemon Hill Avenue.
The emphasis of the program will be heavy on prevention and intervention instead of just enforcement and incarceration, according to the mayor.
Image by: John Herandez
Johnson said the program will focus on school literacy enrichment, strengthening the relationship between the Sacramento community and law enforcement, supporting workforce readiness programs and job training, and promoting regional collaboration.
The COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program provided funding for additional deputies in taking on this task.
Undersheriff Mark Iwasa said that community interaction and youth level intervention is important in solving the gang problem.
Deputy Chief Dan Schiele said that every contact law enforcers have with the public is an opportunity to be a role model and that youth interaction is one of the priorities.
"I grew up in Oak Park, and anytime we saw a police officer, we ran, because we always thought we were in trouble, even though we're not in trouble," Johnson said. "You don't want a community living in fear."
He said that, through the program, he will challenge law enforcers to be proactive in interacting with the youth, and make sure the first interaction with them is not negative, in order to build trust.
(Image by: John Hernandez)
A vigil was held outside the venue after the press conference in commemoration of Monique Nelson's death anniversary, a gang-related death that was known as the barbershop shooting.
"There is nothing we can do to bring back her life," Johnson said. "But we made a commitment that her death won't be in vain."
He said that within the four-month period after the shooting, all four shooters were arrested. He added, "Justice was served."
Nelson’s brother, Richard Anthony Nelson was at the press conference Tuesday and said, “Hopefully we can stop this (gang violence) in our area, because it really destroys families.”
In the next couple of months the mayor said that the Gang Prevention Task Force he formed will put an implementation team in place that will be in charge in making sure that the program’s goals are achieved within the next three years.