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Offering a Safe Place and Peace of Mind

Police Chief Tim Jackman delivered the following speech at the grand opening of the new Boys and Girls Club facility at John Adams Middle School (JAMS) on June 10

Good afternoon. On September 11th, 2008, we gathered here to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Boys and Girls Club Clubhouse at John Adams Middle School.

Today we meet again to commemorate its opening. Without the collaborative efforts of Allan Young of the Boys and Girls Club and the Superintendant of Schools, Tim Cuneo, this facility would still be a dream. Of course they couldn’t have accomplished all of this without support from the School Board, the City Council, the Boys and Girls Club Board of Governors and some visionary people from the Santa Monica Rotary Club. I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone who has made this project a success.

The importance of after-school programs, such as those offered by the Boys and Girls Club cannot be stressed enough. Statistics published in an April 2009, US Department of Justice Report on Juvenile Arrests for 2007, are both astounding and deeply troubling:

  • In 2007, law enforcement agencies in the United States made an estimated 2.18 million arrests of persons under the age of 18.

  • Juveniles accounted for 16% of all violent crime arrests and more than one quarter of all property crime arrests in 2007 (26%).

  • In 2007, 11% (1,180) of all murder victims were under age 18.

  • One of the positive statistics involving juvenile arrests is that for aggravated assaults committed by males which have decreased by 4%. Unfortunately, there has been a 10% increase in arrests for aggravated assaults for juvenile females.

Last September I talked about my experience as a Division Commander in charge of Youth Services while at Long Beach PD. I want to remind you of some important facts that I learned during my time in that command:

  • One third of all violent crime committed by juvenile offenders occurs between 3pm and 7pm on school days.

  • During those same 3pm to 7pm hours, 22% of all violent crimes occur to juvenile victims.
  • After-school hours also experience an elevated risk of other delinquent behavior- such as drug and alcohol abuse, inappropriate sexual activity, gang involvement and other anti-social behaviors.

This past weekend I attended a fund raiser for another Santa Monica Youth program. One commentator that evening discussed the issue of “Social Justice.” It cannot be denied that poverty and density contribute significantly to crime. Immigrants and the children of immigrants -- legal or otherwise -- are also believed to be at higher risk for both criminal activity and victimization.

So the question is, can we -- or how can we -- reduce the incidence of youth crime and help those with higher risk factors for criminal involvement remain safe and uninvolved in criminal activity?

This facility will offer the children of our community a safe place to go during the time when they are most vulnerable. They will be given the chance to develop friendships with other children and to be mentored by adults who provide a positive influence in their lives.

They will have the opportunity to learn about technology in the Technology and Media Center; work on school projects in the Learning Center; relax in the Recreation area or use the JAMS auditorium for drama and dance programs. These are all things that will directly translate into successful adulthood.

After-school programs such as these offer parents and guardians peace of mind. Children have a safe place to go that will keep them out of trouble and out of harm’s way. Overall, the community will benefit from the reduction in youth delinquency, and the contributions made by a more educated and productive youth population.

A Boys & Girls Club Provides:
A safe place to learn and grow...
Ongoing relationships with caring, adult professionals...
Life-enhancing programs and character development experiences...
Hope and opportunity.

Thank you again to those involved and responsible for this tremendous facility. I am certain this will help make Santa Monica a better and safer community.

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