GONZALES — Gonzales law enforcement worked with the community and local youth as well as sent out surveys during its two-year grant from the Strengthen Law Enforcement and Community Grant Program.
“The goal to our initiative was to strengthen the relationships amongst our communities’ law enforcement agencies and the citizenry they work for,” said Special Projects Director Mark Hartunian. “For us to better understand our communities, our constituents, the people that we work for and make sure we work diligently to enhance the good relationships.”
Within the program, Gonzales Police developed a Community Police Academy, community survey and juvenile diversion program, provided crisis intervention training to officers and offered Cultural Competency training as well as Spanish classes for cops.
“That was an educational component that was prepared and presented by Chief Eric Sills out of the Soledad Police Department,” Hartunian said. “He had done the same thing with the San Jose Police Department when he was a captain there.”
The community surveys were evaluated by Monterey County Health Department, which reflected that the law enforcement agencies should work on building trust, crime reduction and training and education. About 19,000 surveys were mailed out, with 1,100 returned.
Additionally, 80 South County residents graduated from the Community Police Academy, a 13-week program. Throughout the grant program, there were two police academies, with King City and Greenfield collaborating on one academy and Gonzales and Soledad collaborating on another.
“The juvenile diversion program was very successful for us,” Hartunian said. “Thirty-two referrals were completed, 30 were in progress and 10 were dismissed.”
According to Hartunian, 72 juveniles were referred to the Juvenile Diversion Program for an eight-week program, which was also offered to guardians or parents of the youth.
The program was managed and administered by Sun Street Centers, which due to the program’s success, has now opened office space in Gonzales.
The grant expired in June, but the four South County cities have decided to fund the Juvenile Diversion Program for an additional year.
Thirty-six police officers completed a 40-hour crisis intervention training, dealing with individuals who are troubled, challenged or just find life difficult to contend with.
The training was through South Bay Regional out of the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department.