Thursday, August 18, 2011
Tomorrow’s Future NR11361rh
Los Angeles: A youth oriented alternative and workshop to combat the influences of gangs and tagging crews.
The area known as the Santa Monica/ Western Corridor is home to one of the most impoverished communities within Hollywood Area. For most who reside here, English is a second language with most people coming from Mexico, Central America, and South America. The population density and economic vulnerability of the residents makes it a target rich environment for gang members who intimidate, extort, and recruit the youth of the area to become involved in their criminal enterprise. Pressures are great as children from as young as ten years old to pre-teens and teens find themselves confronted daily with domestic terrorists in the form of Mara Salvatrucha and tagging crew members who use threats to force or coerce youngsters into the gang life.
Few other daily influences directly engage with the youth who live and go to school in this area. The police presence almost solely consists of black and white patrol cars driving into the neighborhood to handle the many calls for service or to preside over yet another crime scene.
As of April 2011, the Commanding Officer of Hollywood Area began the first ever bi-lingual community foot-beat to begin the much needed bridge building of trust with a neighborhood filled with apprehension. To date, the relationships have already begun. The next step or layer of positive influence is a permanent storefront to prove to this community that we care, we are here to stay, and we are investing in their most precious resource, their children.
Thus, we have the birth of the afterschool alternative to the streets, which is tomorrow’s future. An LAPD storefront which has as its explicit purpose, the nurturing and welcoming of area youth, presenting positive role models, such as police officers, community leaders with teaching experience, supplying bi-lingual tutors who themselves were area residents and beneficiaries of LAPD youth programs.
The storefront location was selected so it would be accessible to those most in need, be situated near the majority of schools, have parking availability, and be a prominent fixture and infusion of “something good” within the community landscape.
There will be outreach through the schools, parks, and local clergy groups and businesses to inform the residents that we are there to help.
A calendar of special programs, speakers, and training opportunities for youth and their parents will be published on a monthly basis in addition to the daily assistance from officers and volunteer tutors. Important tools such as computers and internet access for school projects will be available.