Project Safe Neighborhood
In January of 2005, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and the San Jacinto Police Department implemented the Riverside County District Attorney’s Project Safe Neighborhood program based on recommendations from Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco. Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Gerry Lopez, Chairperson of PSN, coordinated resources and provided a focus on gang intervention to pilot the program. PSN calls for a multifaceted response involving county, city, school districts and community groups. The program focuses on prevention and intervention strategies such as parent, community and school staff education, service projects, mentoring, student extracurricular activities, and life skills classroom education. According to Deputy District Attorney Gerry Lopez, “One of the most powerful and effective formulas to lead young people towards the path of success is to connect them with positive, inspiring adults, involve them in fun and rewarding activities, teach them to overcome their insecurities, and help them discover their talents and abilities. The Riverside Arts Council does a masterful job of executing this formula. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and participating school districts are very impressed with, and extremely grateful for the Riverside Arts Council’s partnership with Project Safe Neighborhoods and their commitment towards helping at-risk youth.” Utilizing the California State Visual and Performing Arts Standards, the Riverside Arts Council fulfills the extracurricular activities component with its arts enrichment program. “Using the arts as an empowerment and skill-building tool, the project goal is to help at-risk youth to continue their education and gain respect for others and themselves,” says Patrick Brien, the Riverside Arts Council’s Executive Director. “In addition, the collaborative and communicative elements built into the specific disciplines selected for each unit offer the opportunity to teach workplace skills such as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. The resulting sense of self-esteem will reduce the need to find a sense of belonging through gang activity.”
In 1995, ProjectBRIDGE (Building Resources for the Intervention and Deterrence of Gang Engagement) was established through a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention, and is a nationally recognized program for gang prevention, intervention, and suppression. From May 1995 to August 1998, the project was administered by the University of California, Riverside, Office of Education and Community Initiatives. In September 1998, the lead agency became the City of Riverside. The project is the result of community collaborative efforts committed to reducing the incidence of youth gang violence. Riverside County Juvenile Probation Department; City of Riverside Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department; Alvord, and Riverside Unified School Districts; Riverside County Office of Education; California Baptist University; University of California, Riverside, Robert Presley Center for Crime and Justice; and various community-based organizations are key participants. The mission of ProjectBRIDGE (Building Resources for the Intervention and Deterrence of Gang Involvement) is to transform positively the lifestyle of gang-involved youth and their families and reduce gang violence in the community.