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Frank Ferry: Anti-Gang Task Force helps reduce crime

Live From City Hall

Posted: April 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Since 1991, the city’s Anti-Gang Task Force has worked to lessen the appeal of gangs and end gang crime in Santa Clarita through partnerships, proactive programming and networking.

The task force is made up of city, school district and law enforcement personnel, and also includes service agency representatives and local residents.

 The 2010 yearly report, which was recently released, shows the creative and proactive ways the task force works to prevent crime and brighten the future of local high-risk youth. 

The Sheriff’s Department plays a key role in preventing gang crime.  In 2010, special police units, were added to focus on gang crime and respond to gang-related calls.

The Sheriff’s Department also arrested 189 graffiti vandals, and increased truancy and curfew sweeps to keep kids safe and off the streets.  Additionally, the Sheriff Department’s Gang and Juvenile Violence Crime Unit reports that serious gang and juvenile crime decreased by 12 percent last year.

Task force members also implemented creative programs in 2010 to help youth make positive choices and to deter self-destructive behavior. 

The Outreach Committee, a subcommittee of the Anti-Gang Task Force, reached out to thousands of local youth hosting gang awareness presentations at local schools and youth centers in Santa Clarita. Committee members also implemented POWER (Peers on the Way to Everlasting Recovery) — a male mentoring program held at the city’s Newhall Community Center. 

Over the summer, POWER teens joined up with the ARTree, a local arts organization, to create a portable mural depicting the history of downtown Newhall.

In 2010, nearly 100 teens participated in the Youth Employment Services program, which provides low-income, high-risk teens with job experience and training thanks to a partnership with over 30 local organizations and businesses. 

The program had an amazing 92-percent overall retention rate  — meaning nearly all of the youth who started in the program completed it successfully.

Task force members also worked closely with three active neighborhood committees in Valle Del Oro (Newhall), East Newhall and Granada Villa (Canyon Country).

These committees provide a forum for community members to work with the city, law enforcement and other partners to improve intergroup relations, decrease crime and address quality-of-life issues.

Participating neighborhoods hosted family events, workshops and educational classes and conducted special arts programs like the award-winning NOMAD youth art program in Valle del Oro, made possible by the volunteerism of local art students and in partnership with the Palmer Management Group.

Committee and task force members also worked with residents to decrease neighborhood nuisances by reporting graffiti, crime and illegally parked vehicles. 

Currently, the Anti-Gang Task Force is conducting a valleywide gang assessment that will be used to set the course for gang prevention and intervention strategies and programs in 2011 and beyond. 

Preserving the high quality of life in Santa Clarita is paramount and requires the efforts of the entire community.

If you would like to join the task force’s efforts or have questions, please contact Cynthia Llerenas at (661) 250-3720.  To view a copy of the 2010 Anti-Gang Task Force yearly report, visit

Frank Ferry is a Santa Clarita City Councilmember and can be reached at: [email protected]. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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