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February 17, 2010 > Police department relations, resources and job help

Police department relations, resources and job help

By Shavon Walker

Union City's Youth Violence Prevention & Intervention Advisory Committee discussed current efforts at its February 2 meeting. The Committee's main goal is to reduce violence among the city's at-risk youth and provide support for those who need it. Measure UU (public-safety parcel tax) and CalGRIP funding help support the city's youth violence prevention and intervention programs.

Last month, Patricia Abadesco, Interim Director of Youth & Family Services, and other staff members met with Union City Police Department (UCPD) to discuss the committee's hiring and referral process and formulate a plan that will allow outreach workers and the police to work together to reduce crime and violence. Abadesco and UCPD's Capt. Kevin Finnerty will collaborate and devise policy and procedures.

Lead Outreach Worker Artria Lewis spoke about the recent Decoto Road shootings, which occurred within hours of each other, on January 22. A 16 year-old was shot in the femoral artery and remains in critical condition and a house was riddled with bullets an hour later. The two incidents are not connected; the house's occupants were not injured. All staff members are extensively trained in emotional support and how to offer services to families and individuals affected by violence.

Jason Hawks and Marty Neideffer, Alameda County Sherriff's Department support UCPD's and YVPIAC's joint goal.

"Attend the police department meetings and get to know the officers. When they know you, they'll call [to find out more]," said Hawks.

"If you make the cops' job easier, creating a working protocol will happen," Neideffer added.

"Captain Finnerty and UCPD have been more than willing to work with us," agreed Abadesco who has attended many meetings with Finnerty who, in turn, has expressed his support for the Committee's programs numerous times.

Sergio Abundis, Youth & Family Services Case Manager, has arranged a call-in for March 31 at City Hall. Crime data analysis is not yet available but 200 youth have been identified as at-risk and are eligible to participate. Once counselors have identified specific youth, invitations will be issued.

A call-in is an intervention and follow-up on high risk, probationary youth, aged 14-24 years, living or working in Union City. Invitees are required to attend. Group meetings comprise youth, their support system (family and friends) and members of law enforcement (FBI, police department, district attorneys).

The youth are informed of how their current choices affect their lives and those around them and are given a glimpse of the consequences of future negative decisions. Positive alternatives, such as job and school assistance, are then presented to them.

"This is their last chance to clean up their act," Abundis said.

"You have to make different choices," added Street Outreach Worker Vincente Rodriguez. "We can help them make better decisions. They see that we care."

"We just want to stop the violence," added Abadesco.

Abundis suggested the creation of a resources list to help UCPD. Officers would give victims a small card bearing the information. Additional resources, such as substance abuse facilities and probation, would be needed. Staff also needs a contact in Eden Hospital's trauma center and someone, previously at-risk, to be a motivational speaker.

Fabiola Camarillo, Youth Employment Coordinator, requested help in finding businesses willing to hire clients from the program. She is also requested help to contact Chambers of Commerce in other cities.

"The workforce inventory board has on-the-job training. They're willing to pay our clients' wages for the first 90 days. After that, the employer would bear the cost," said Camarillo. "We have Alameda County Hire, a subsidized employment program through Alameda County Social Services Agency, until September. If the company hires a client, it will pay 80 percent of the wages and and 80 percent of the employer's cost for social security, Medicare and unemployment tax."

For more information, visit The YVPIAC meets on the first Monday of the month at Union City Sports Center, 31224 Union City Boulevard, Union City. The public is welcome to attend.

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