Mayor Harriet Miller


1. Briefly describe the structure of the program.

Santa Barbara has worked for many years to provide a safe environment for its youth. The City has taken a comprehensive approach to achieving that goal, instituting several programs that deal with root causes of youth violence, and reinforcing successes by providing appealing alternative outlets for youthful energy. Through the Joint City/School District Mutual Concerns Committee, City Council works closely and cooperatively with the independently elected School Board to develop and implement policies.

The overall approach seeks to:

  • Send a clear message that violence is NOT OK
  • Provide a visible, strong enforcement program against violent activity
  • Provide guidance and appropriate training programs as preventive measures
  • Provide opportunities for young people to participate in defining solutions
  • Take steps to keep youth in school
  • Offer attractive alternative activities.

Gang Violence Suppression

A basic element of Santa Barbara’s program is a strong police presence and a coordinated effort among the Santa Barbara Police Department and those of the surrounding communities. Much of the youth violence experienced in Santa Barbara is related to youth gangs, many of the offenders coming from outside the City. The City has a strong program to suppress gang violence within the community, and to educate children who might become gang members about the realities of gang life and its dangers. The Santa Barbara Police Department, in cooperation with all criminal justice agencies throughout the County has implemented a County Wide Gang Strategy . The strategy has four components: 1) Recognize gangs as a community problem with the need to implement early intervention/prevention programs; 2) Adopt a "zero tolerance" criminal justice strategy, and use advanced computer technology to track gangs; 3) Prosecute gang violence using the "Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act; " and 4) Train all criminal justice system employees on how to deal with gangs.

The Santa Barbara Police Department, in cooperation with the School District, the County Probation Department and District Attorney, and several social service agencies has implemented a multi-faceted program to reduce gang violence. It includes two School Resource Officers who interact informally with faculty and students; counsel students and refers them to community agencies; and assist school personnel in dealing with student misbehavior. One SRO is assigned to the high school campuses. The second SRO works with the junior high schools. Two specially assigned officers participate in teaching the Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education programs in the elementary schools. The Problem Enforcement Team officers, who work specifically on gang issues, are on the Violence Prevention Education teaching team.

The education portion of this grant-funded program has four specific components:

1) Diverting youth from gang violence;

2) Intervening and offering gang-involved youth alternatives to gangs;

3) Strengthening families; and

4) Creating a safe school environment.

The grant collaborators have had 615 formal gang committee meetings with schools, probation, community based organizations and criminal justice system members; coordinated graffiti removal from over 1000 sites; extended anti-gang curriculum from 2 to 4 elementary schools; provided private counseling sessions to over 100 families. Over 378 parents have participated in parenting skills training; over 1000 parents have participated in gang/drug education classes; over 2000 individual student/parent counseling sessions have taken place; over 200 students have received special anger management and conflict resolution training; and 50 high school dropouts have returned to school.

Contact person: Police Captain Richard Glaus (805) 897-2390

At-Risk Youth Mentoring Program

An important tool to dissuade youth from adopting a gang or other violent lifestyle is to increase their sources of positive reinforcement and guidance. The Fighting Back At-RiskYouth Mentoring Program is focused on younger siblings of known gang members. Referred by teachers or parents, these students aged 8 to 14 meet for a minimum of one hour per week with an adult volunteer from the community. The volunteers are screened by Fighting Back, a community based organization, and matched with students for interests in common.

Mentors help students with school work; do art projects; read or play games; or go on trips to museums or other educational places of interest. The benefit to the child may come from having the continuing encouragement and undivided attention of an adult for an hour each week, or it may be an opportunity to broaden her/his horizons. The mentor may also serve as a sounding board providing guidance for dealing with day to day problems. When serious issues arise, the mentor can alert the school principal so that the child and his family make connections for appropriate services.

Contact person: Jean Carroll (805) 682-6667

2. How are the programs financed?

The above programs were initially grant funded from 1995 through June 1998. The following components have been added as of July 1998 to continue and build on its successes.

Focused Guidance and Training

This component is a recently added enhancement to the original gang violence suppression program. Fighting Back is collaborating with the Police Department and other agencies, to provide focused guidance and training at a local continuation high school. These students have generally been unsuccessful in the regular high school. This program will provide Life Skills Training, Personal Growth classes, Reconnecting Youth Program, Anger Management and Conflict Resolution Training, Group Counseling and Family Therapy, Acupuncture Treatment and an on-campus Friday Night Live (drug and alcohol free sports/recreation).

Contact person: Penny Jenkins (805) 682-6667

Teen Center

This facility is being created at the YMCA to provide a teen center and child care facility for at risk teens, and to provide daily after school programs and weekend activities.

Youth Employment Training and Work Apprenticeship

This program through the City Parks and Recreation Department provides weekly employment training and assistance with job development and placement. The department coordinates and supervises court-mandated community service referrals.

Contact person: Richard Johns (805) 564-5430

Daytime Loitering / Night Time Curfew

This Ordinance makes it unlawful for a minor who is subject to compulsory education to be in an off campus public place during school hours. The enacting ordinance makes exceptions for legitimate absences authorized by the school or parent. Its aim is to reinforce the importance of staying in school and to reduce the number of youth crimes, which frequently accompany truancy. The ordinance also defines the night time curfew applicable to youth under 18, with the intent to keep kids off the street and reduce night time crime

Contact person: Police Captain Richard Glaus (805) 897-2390

Teen Court

Youth accused of minor non-violent, non-gang related offenses such as theft, possession of alcohol or marijuana, or graffiti vandalism are tried before a jury of their peers. Offenses against the curfew and loitering ordinance may also be included (first time offenders). Penalties imposed include counseling, letters of apology, making restitution, graffiti removal. Youth must then serve on a Teen Court jury for a specified number of hours, depending on the offense.

Contact person: Judge Thomas Adams (805) 568-3180

Youth Council: United Youth Empowered

Operated through the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Youth Council is open to any teen who wants to contribute to the work of one of the Youth Council subcommittees. These focus on youth image and representation in the media; education; drugs and alcohol issues; activities for youth; teen sexuality; youth violence and illegal activities; job development; and homeless youth problems. The Council meets weekly to plan and schedule programs for teens in the community. Activities include dance clubs at the high schools and regularly scheduled dances. Its United Voices magazine is published one or more times each year; and the Council published a Teen Services Catalog providing a concise summary of available services for counseling, education, employment, health care and recreation. The Council held a forum to gain input from other community youth on a proposed skateboard facility. The information gained from the forum is being utilized in determining the design and site for the facility.

Contact person: Ana Maria Alvarez, Teen Programs Supervisor, (805) 897-2650

Youth Interns On City Boards and Commissions

Beginning in 1995, the City Council established a Youth Intern Program. The intent of the program is to expand opportunities for youth to become directly involved in local government decision making, and to provide an avenue for boards and commissions to benefit from the perspective and insight of young people in the community. Youth interns may serve on the Parks and Recreation Commissions, Library Commission, Police and Fire Commission, and other boards as determined by City Council.

Contact person: Molly Carrillo-Walker (805) 564-5418

Investing In Our Youth

The City of Santa Barbara provides a broad range of youth programs. City Council budgeted approximately $3 million for Youth Programs in fiscal year 1997-98. These include education and academic support; safety and prevention education; youth employment and job training; and funding for community based organizations serving youth. The Parks and Recreation Department programming for youth exceeds $1 million for the year.

Contact person: Richard Johns (805) 564-5430

After School Programs

The City and the School District jointly fund a program of after school activities at each of the elementary and junior high schools. These include team sports, track and field, jazzercise,, martial arts, language clubs, and computer labs. The City Recreation and Parks Department also sponsors a homework/tutoring program each week day after school at a neighborhood center.

Contact person: Joan Russell (805) 564-5418

2. When were the programs created and why?

The Santa Barbara City Council first focused on development of positive activities and programs for youth development as a specific Council Goal in 1991. At that time, the City was relatively "gang free"; but a violent incident in the community and concern about the proliferation of gangs facing most California cities called for a community response. In 1993, the Santa Barbara Police Department, in cooperation with all criminal justice agencies throughout the County implemented the County-Wide Gang Strategy described above. The Police Department sought grant funding to increase effectiveness in addressing the gang problem, and in 1995 was awarded the Gang Violence Suppression Grant discussed above. Building on the success of that program, additional Title V grant funds will continue the program with enhancements.

The Council appointed a Youth Task Force to address the specific problems of at-risk youth and to make recommendations for strengthening existing youth development programs and creating new ones. The Youth Task Force presented its final report to the Council in 1993. The City has worked to improve its programs and honed its collaborative efforts with other agencies, culminating in the current programs.

3. How do you measure the programs’ effectiveness?

The Second Step Violence Prevention Education Program has been evaluated in two ways by Fighting Back: (1) pre- and post-tests designed to measure students’ knowledge and skills in the areas covered; (2) a questionnaire designed to capture teachers’ observations about changes in student behavior as a result of the curriculum. Post-tests showed a 63% increase in student knowledge among students in the 50th percentile on the pre-test. Among the high-risk students, that is, the students with the lowest pre-test scores, post-test scores improved by 196%, reflecting a significant increase in understanding. The teachers’ evaluations of their students’ progress indicated that 92% of teachers thought the students now understood and were able to utilize empathy in their dealings with other students. Similarly, 92% of teachers said their students now understood the value of anger management and 96% said their students had learned steps to avoid acting on impulse, as a result of completing the Second Step program.

Participation among youth in after school programs at elementary and junior high schools continues to grow. Nationwide statistics show that the after school hours are when most youngsters get into trouble. Our local statistics show an overall reduction in incidence of youth crime. One of the major indicators of effectiveness of gang violence suppression programs is the large number of families and youth who choose to participate in the services offered. The Countywide gang strategy has resulted in an 81% reduction in gang related crime since 1996; other youth crime has been reduced 25%; and truancy is down 48%.

4. How are the programs financed?

The City funds many youth-serving community based organizations through our

Community Development Block Grant and Human Services Program. While many of the programs described above are funded through special grant programs, more than half of the $3 million expended for the City’s programs for youth are financed by the City’s General Fund.

The original Gang Violence Suppression Program was funded by a three year $1.5 million grant beginning in 1995 from the California Office of Criminal Justice Planning under its Gang Violence Suppression (GVS) Grant Program. A further grant has been secured through the U. S. Department of Justice Title V Delinquency Prevention Grant Program.

The computer equipment used to facilitate inter-agency communication and tracking of gang activity was funded by the GVS grant; and one staff person (programmer) was funded with Community Development Block Grant funds.

5. How is the community involved the programs?

The Santa Barbara community has been involved in these programs from the beginning. The broad based Youth Task Force provided input from many segments of the community. Implementation of many of the sports and recreation programs depends on participation of volunteer coaches. All of the mentors who meet with students are community volunteers.

6. What are the major lessons learned from the programs?

Successful youth programming requires that youth be involved in the planning and that their families be encouraged and supported in efforts to participate. Santa Barbara seeks to reinforce the message that youth are an important part of our community.

7. Contact person:

Patricia Reilly, (805) 564-5318

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