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California Governor Schwarzenegger Highlights State's Anti-Gang Efforts
May 29, 2009 - Building on his commitment to combat gang violence and protect public safety, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today joined law enforcement officials in Salinas to highlight California’s Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention (CalGRIP) funding and to announce the first-ever “Gifts for Guns” program in the area, modeled after the program created by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“There’s no higher priority for government than ensuring public safety, and by providing Salinas with the resources they need, we are fighting gang violence with suppression and prevention efforts that will make communities throughout California safer,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “We have the best and bravest law enforcement officials in the country, and I am proud to partner with them in a smart and focused way to protect our citizens.”
The Salinas Police Department will accept donated guns at the Vineyard Church in East Salinas on Saturday June, 6. Area residents will face a unique opportunity to safely surrender any firearm, anonymously and without questions to police personnel in exchange for a $50 gift card (rifle), $100 gift card (handgun) or $200 gift card (assault weapon). The gift cards will be paid for by donations from the Salinas business community.
The Gifts for Guns program was originally developed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 2005. Last year, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department collected more than 3,000 guns, which were later destroyed.
“Salinas, like other California cities, has experienced more than its share of gang violence in the past 18 months,” said Paul Seave, director of the Governor’s Office of Gang and Youth Violence Policy. “I commend the brave and caring people of this city for their continuing efforts to end this violence through prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies.”
In March, the Governor announced the awarding of more than $9.2 million in competitive grants to provide local assistance funding to 17 cities and 13 community-based organizations in areas with heavy concentrations of gangs. He also announced the formation of the Safe Community Partnership, a unique public-private partnership between the Governor’s Office of Gang and Youth Violence Policy and three foundations that will provide technical assistance to five cities that obtained grants to implement a proven anti-violence strategy. The city of Salinas has received approximately $400,000 in grant money from CalGRIP and is one of the five cities participating in the Safe Community Partnership. The other cities are: Modesto, Oakland, Oxnard, and Stockton. The three participating foundations, which contributed a total of one million dollars to fund the technical assistance, are The California Wellness Foundation, The California Endowment and Kaiser Permanente Northern California Region: Community Benefits Program. Additionally, the community-based organization Second Chance Youth Program has provided $160,000 in funding for Monterey County.
In January, the Governor’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency announced more than $5.4 million in competitive grants to 11 agencies to provide job training and education programs targeting youth at risk of joining gangs or seeking to leave them. Youth (aged 14-24) will receive a broad range of services, including mental health services, gang counseling, educational skills for high school graduation or GED, occupational training in business services, biotech areas and green industry apprenticeships.
Training is being provided for high-growth occupations such as weatherization, construction, concrete and landscaping, e-waste collections and conservation and energy efficiency education. Funding for these programs is drawn from the Governor’s 15 percent Discretionary Workforce Investment Act funds under the administrative authority of the Employment Development Department.
Last year was the first distribution of $9.2 million in grant funding to cities and community-based organizations for gang prevention, intervention and enforcement, and $7.3 million was distributed in job training grants.
The CalGRIP strategy targeted approximately $31 million in state and federal funding last year and will direct $34.7 million this year toward local anti-gang efforts, including intervention, suppression and prevention. This includes $7 million to enhance CHP’s support of local law enforcement, and an almost doubling in funding for witness protection to a total of $5.2 million.
Governor Schwarzenegger introduced the CalGRIP initiative in May of 2007 to confront the dramatic increase in gangs across the state and their proliferation in suburban and rural areas. Gangs are responsible for crimes including murder, witness intimidation, money laundering, extortion, narcotic production and sales, prostitution, human trafficking, theft and counterfeiting. In spite of an overall decrease in crime in most California cities since the 1990s, rates of gang-related violent crime remain steady.
Source: California Governor