Before we can make any substantial progress, everyone – every government body, every youth organization, and every parent organization – must become involved in a joint effort to meet the needs of children who are at risk. If juvenile crime isn’t fought on the streets by the police, in the classrooms by the teachers and in the homes by parents, we are bound for failure.
Juvenile crime and violence must be addressed on a continual basis. I am very proud of our Police Department and its leadership role in our City and the County on gang issues. We must be diligent to prevent heinous crimes from happening in our communities. We must hold the gangs at bay, and respond quickly and justly when there are gang-related incidents. Having gone on many ride-alongs with the Novato Police Department, I can assure you of the officers’ sensitivity to our youth and their ability to deal effectively with kids in trouble.
To combat juvenile crime there must be a two-pronged approach: preventative and punitive. I voted for the Youth Curfew because I am convinced that the police needed a non-criminal means to help young people who may be at risk. The curfew allows the officer to help without having to involve the juvenile in the justice system.
On the preventative side, I supported funding two School Resource Officers who worked to develop constructive and position relationships with our youth in our high schools. Unfortunately, during the ‘great recession’ that was one of the first programs discontinued which I opposed. I have personally experienced how valuable the School Resource Officers are in developing trusting relationships with our youth. Sometimes, talking with someone other than family can save a life! I support giving our youth legal and wholesome ways to socialize and have fun. That’s why I supported the skate park and the Youth Activity Center.
In 1996, I initiated, along with Connie Benz, former President of the Novato Unified School District Board of Directors, the original Blue Ribbon Committee focused on preventing the use of drugs and alcohol by our youth. Among the many successful outcomes of our efforts were the Youth Court (now operated by YMCA under the auspices of our Marin County Courts) and the popular 15-minute program that stages an alcohol-related accident resulting in a mock trial. These efforts were dusted off and reinvigorated with the recent Blue Ribbon Committee.