SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF – This week, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Gilroy to support the South County Youth Task Force. The Task Force was created to address the influence and impact of gangs on south county youth and its communities, and to reduce juvenile delinquent behavior through gang activity and violence within the cities of Gilroy and Morgan Hill and the County unincorporated areas of San Martin.
Funding to support the Task Force and the necessary staff and services to coordinate its efforts was secured through a grant from the California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention (CalGRIP), and is included in the County approved budget for Fiscal Year 2013. The task Force will seek additional grants and donations, including in-kind resources to advance its goals.
“We support the South County Youth Task Force efforts to reduce gang violence and juvenile delinquent behavior, which will help break the cycle of violence,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Mike Wasserman, who is the County’s representative on the Task Force.
Compared to areas of similar size, crime rates related to gang crimes and violence continue to increase disproportionately in South Santa Clara County, despite the national downward trend.
The City of Gilroy will serve as the lead agency for this collaborative that is includes the County of Santa Clara, the City of Morgan Hill, the Gilroy and Morgan Hill Unified School Districts and the Gilroy Gang Task Force.
The County of Santa Clara agencies actively involved in the Task Force are the District Attorney’s Office, the Probation Department and the Santa Clara County Juvenile Court. South county community based agency Community Solutions is the first one of many that the Task Force anticipates will join.
The South County Task Force is currently in the strategic planning phase to develop an action plan that best defines the scope of gang issues facing south Santa Clara County and identify actions to address them in the most effective way.
“We are very hopeful about this Task Force and the impact that it will have in South County,” said Supervisor George Shirakawa, President County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “We believe that working together we can change the landscape of gang violence and ensure at-risk youth and families realize that they can be safe in their own community.”
The Task Force plans to include several strategic goals to accomplish its mission:
• Implementing a two-tiered governance structure that establishes a policy team that evaluates emerging trends, facilitates interagency collaboration and provides direction and guidance to a technical team.
• Fostering a culture of communication and collaboration, to maximize coordination across boundaries of organization.
• Conducting a community-wide youth/gang assessment process to better understand South County issues and identify strategies to address them.
• Developing and adopting a strategic work plan that would direct and coordinate programs and services.
• Designing and executing educational awareness campaign that applies cultural competent strategies to inform and engage task force members, youth and their families, and community partners to reduce youth violence and anti-social behaviors in South County.
The process will include input from law enforcement representatives, community and neighborhood groups, service providers and schools. The Task Force anticipates adopting the Strategic plan in the fall of 2012.