Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Selling(Out) of Project Bridge

It all looked good at the Finance Committee meeting where three city council members listened as over a dozen people spoke in support of the popular gang intervention program, Project Bridge.

How quickly things change.....

Last Friday, a group of non-profit representatives gathered together at the Youth Services building on Magnolia around the bed where Project Bridge remains on life support, with only six months left to live. They agreed that they would have to pull the plug on the program to save it, then change it into a new organizion which would be independent of city funding and interference.

Chief Leach loves or hates Project Bridge depending on who he talks to. He loves it when he talks to community members. He hates it, when he presents the police department's annual proposed budget to the finance committee with the majority of the police union board sitting behind him. He loved it last year, when he told the council, to fund it or close its doors in six months. He hated it, when the PE reporter who wrote the latest status report, asked him his opinion on the thorny subject. The cops don't like it, in popularity it's on par, perhaps with those damn digital audio recorders, and at this point in Leach's tenure, they run the show.

However he feels about Project Bridge, Leach isn't above using the preventive componants that define it to make the department eligiable to apply for a multi-prong and highly competitive state grant, which would give the department's gang suppression unit, 2/3 of the $500,000. The strategy being, that the preventive elements of the gang issue are fine, but only as long as we can use them as carrot sticks to beef up the suppression componant of gang control.

In the meantime, gang-related shootings rock the neighborhoods of both Casa Blanca and the Eastside, in recent days. Black on Latino and Latino on Black, since most gang violence is racially based, and has little to do with fighting over turf. With kids now looking at these gangs, and having little else to do, gang violence which is often cyclical will continue. The preventive elements which cost money now, save much more money later on, when it comes to gang suppression, an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. If the preventive programs that are in place disappear, then the city will not be able to finance all the officers that will be needed in coming years, and Sgt. Pat McCarthy and his successors at the helm of the RPOA and Dan Bernstein will have to turn their ride-alongs into a regular practice to apply pressure on the city to increase the number of officers it hires and deploys.

Suppressing young Black and Latino men has been a regular pasttime for RPD cops. Putting together preventive programs that involve interaction with the younger kids, does not come as naturally to a police force, that is predominantly white and at the end of the day, retreats to all-white enclaves in southern Riverside, or when they earn enough money, south-western Riverside county.

to be continued....

Project Bridge has now been incorporated into the Park and Recreation Department and is part of the latest Eastside Strategic Plan. It is no longer on life support.

summary of Project Bridge from Riverside police department:

Project Bridge - $861,28
The Office of Justice and Juvenile Delinquency Planning (OJJDP) continues to provide funding to support the very successful Project Bridge program. Project Bridge is a collaborative effort between the Department of Human Resources, the Department of Juvenile Probation, the Riverside Police Department, and the University of California at Riverside. The goal of this program is to provide youth with positive alternatives to gangs and to foster and strengthen healthy lifestyles for children and their families. The OJJDP is working closely with the city of Riverside to make Project Bridge a nationally recognized model gang prevention, intervention, and suppression program.


The saving of Project Bridge?

Project Bridge is falling down


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