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Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) have joined forces to form the Community Safety Partnership (CSP), a program that has established the first-ever Girl Scout Troop in Watts at Grape Street Elementary School.
The CSP program’s primary purpose is to enhance the safety and security of HACLA residents through the presence and relationships of LAPD officers who are assigned to four public housing sites: Ramona Gardens, Jordan Downs, Nickerson Gardens and Imperial Courts. The program focuses on children and teenage youth who face many obstacles, especially the presence of gang members and related violence.
With few community resources and recreational facilities in these areas, the establishment of Girl Scout Troop 19785 (named after LAPD’s Southeast Station which opened in 1978) at Grape Street Elementary School is a major development. It gives young participants opportunities to connect and reinforces the positive concepts associated with Girl Scouts of America (GSA): strong character, positive values, personal responsibility and academic excellence.
“LAPD has evolved into the premiere agency in building relationships with communities like these,” said LAPD Sergeant and CSP Coordinator Emada Tingirides. “Helping to dispel past distrust and strained relationships with law enforcement is a major factor of the CSP program’s success.”
There are many features and components of the CSP program that contribute to its success. Besides officer support, teacher and parent volunteers are also critical, all of whom are CPR-trained and certified as troop leaders for the GSA. At the school, there are a total of 90 Girl Scouts, ranging in age from 6 to 11 and comprised of three Girl Scout levels: Daisies, Brownies and Juniors. CSP funding through HACLA provides all of the girls with uniforms and patches, and because of the program’s success, it has been replicated at another school in the neighborhood, Murchinson Elementary.
A short video about the Grape Street Elementary School Girl Scouts may be viewed here:
Sergeant Tingirides’ faith and enthusiasm in the program is infectious: “The work our dedicated, compassionate officers are doing with these young people is making these communities safer, improving the quality of life and literally changing the future of young people in Watts.”