Riverside, San Bernardino counties get little anti-gang relief from state grants
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10:00 PM PDT on Sunday, March 9, 2008
Riverside County received no money in the first round of grants from Gov. Schwarzenegger's anti-gang program, despite officials' recent warnings that the region faces a growing threat.
Cities and community agencies had asked for about $1.34 million. The county had 14 gang-related killings in 2006, up from 11 the year before, and District Attorney Rod Pacheco has said the county is a "high-intensity gang area."
Agencies in San Bernardino County, which had 23 gang-related killings in 2006, received about $700,000 in law-enforcement and job-training grants announced last week, out of $1.6 million requested.
Paul Seave, the state director of gang and youth violence policy, said three sets of judges reviewed dozens of applications. They took into account a region's gang problem, as well as a proposal's chances for success.
"It's a statewide problem and we tried to do it as fairly and objectively as we could," Seave said.
Launched last May, the California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention initiative -- known as CalGRIP -- uses state and federal money for anti-gang programs.
There were more than $36 million in requests for this year's round of grants. About $16 million was awarded.
Agencies in Los Angeles County, which had 407 gang-related homicides in 2006, received the greatest share of the money.
But Riverside County agencies came up empty.
Police departments in Riverside and Murrieta each had asked for $500,000 in gang prevention grants. The city of Desert Hot Springs had asked for $227,000 and the Corona-Norco YMCA requested $50,000.
In addition, the Riverside County Economic Development Agency asked for $400,000 in job-training money.
The money Riverside hoped to receive would have totaled $1 million as a matching grant to expand police efforts with Project BRIDGE -- Building Resources for the Intervention and Deterrence of Gang Engagement. It is the city's only gang intervention program.
Officials hoped to expand the program into the city's west end around the Arlanza neighborhood, which has been hit by gang violence with four gang-related homicides in the past two years, according to police.
"I thought we had identified a good need," said Capt. John Carpenter.
Riverside's parks and recreation department oversees Project BRIDGE and hoped the money would fund four part-time outreach workers, said Patricia Callaghan, who oversees the program. The rest of the money would help pay for mileage and another van for outings. The additional employees would have allowed them to spend more time in the middle schools and with younger children, she said.
Matching funds already were in place for the requested state money.
"It wasn't something that was just starting up. It was something that was solid and going," Callaghan said. "We really thought we had a good chance."
For now they will continue to work with what they have and build more partnerships to help the youths and their families, she said.
While Carpenter said he would have liked the money, he understands that other cities such as San Bernardino have more pressing needs. Riverside already has a successful gang unit, he said, and reports of crime decreased in 2007.
That extra money going to surrounding counties may present a different problem for Riverside. Stifling gang members in Los Angeles, for example, may send them east, so officers monitor gang trends and graffiti to spot migrations.
"When we know another law enforcement agency is putting the pressure on, we want to do things to keep them from coming into our community," Carpenter said.
The state awarded $16.5 million in grants targeting the state's gang problem last week. Here's the breakdown of grant awards to Southern California's largest counties.
County; received; gang-related homicides in 2006
Riverside; 0; 14
San Bernardino; $700,000; 23
Los Angeles; $4.7 million; 407
Orange; $640,000; 29
San Diego; $1.61 million; 16
governor's office of emergency services, california department of justice