By Sandy Kievman
MetLife Foundation recognizes Los Angeles community-police partnership with national award for innovation, impact in gang prevention and youth safety.
The San Fernando Valley Coalition on Gangs and the Los Angeles Police Department, Operations Valley Bureau are being honored with a MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Award for their extraordinary partnership to improve community safety in Los Angeles. The partnership is being recognized as an Excellence in Gang Prevention and Youth Safety.
This partnership was selected from more than 540 applicants, nationwide, for a MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Award, a program administered by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). The partners’ collaborative approach to improve safety and strengthen community-police relations caught the attention of the national selection committee comprised of police commanders, community development executives and LISC staff.
“Collaboration between community-based groups and police departments can reduce crime, stimulate housing and business activity, and improve the quality of life in lower-income neighborhoods,” added Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “The San Fernando Valley partnership is an exemplary model for groups, nationwide, facing similar challenges and opportunities.”
The San Fernando Valley Coalition on Gangs is a partnership between government entities and community based organizations, with the shared goal to promote youth safety through the coordination of gang prevention, intervention and suppression activities. Prior to the creation of the Coalition in 2001, governmental agencies were challenged by informal and largely ineffective coordination channels with other agencies. To address the need for collaboration, LAPD Operations Valley Bureau, led by former Deputy Chief Ron Bergmann, had a series of meetings with community organizations, to discuss improving communication and coordination of existing resources. As a result, the partners pulled together a group of more than 50 agencies that could contribute to the overall reduction of violent gang crime, through a comprehensive intervention and prevention strategy. Since then, the Coalition has become a successful model for collaboration, community policing and effectively utilizing private and public resources to reduce crime. LAPD absorbed the role of being the anchor agency. Other organizations involved include LA Unified School District, LA City Dept. of Recreation and Parks, LA County Probation, the Mayor’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development Office (GRYD), LA City Attorney, Dept. of Children and Family Services, LA County Mental Health, LA City Board of Public Works, Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils, Communities in Schools, San Fernando Valley Child and Family Guidance, FITE, City and County elected officials, Mission and Foothill Clergy Councils and community based organizations.
Bobby Arias from Communities in Schools, a charter member of the Coalition stated that “The Coalition has increased the community’s access to youth and family services, facilitated a smoother cross referral process and increased positive outcomes for the San Fernando Valley community. The Coalition also provides networking opportunities for agencies to acquire partnerships that augment the work that they are doing to provide services for children, youth and parents. Members of the Coalition are honored to receive the LISC/Metlife Award, which will enable us to reach more youth and families.”
Los Angeles Police Department Commander Regina Scott stated, “It is with great pride and pleasure that the San Fernando Valley Coalition on Gangs (SFVCOG) was selected out of 540 applicants for the LISC/MetLife Foundation National Safety Award for innovation, impact in gang prevention and youth safety.”
“To be recognized for the work our coalition does in partnerships with community based organizations and governmental entities, I’m very proud of our partnership and of what we as an organization accomplish.”
“As the Assistant Commanding Officer that is directly involved with the SFVCOG, it makes me glad to know we have such talented and dedicated professionals here in the San Fernando Valley. The Los Angeles Police Department and I would like to once again thank the LISC/MetLife Foundation for honoring the SFVCOG. Your continued support to make Communities a better place to live is especially appreciated in the San Fernando Valley.”
Editor’s Note: Sandy Kievman is a Los Angeles City Attorney Community Resource Specialist, Los Angeles City Attorney, with the Neighborhood Prosecutor and Gangs Program.