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Community Outreach - Working with At-Risk Youth
Community Outreach - Working with At-Risk Youth
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California dedicates significant resources to collaborating with the community to prevent crime, enhance public safety, and improve the quality of life. United States Attorney Robert S. Brewer, Jr. feels strongly that our office must continually connect with stakeholders to better understand and respond to community needs. Our prosecutors and engagement team members often work directly with local police officers, agency officials, residents, schools, nonprofit organizations, and others to develop comprehensive solutions to emerging public safety problems. The office is committed to taking on leadership roles in prevention organizations, building bonds of trust in the community, investing time in mentoring programs, and enhancing public safety through increased awareness and education.
Juvenile Smuggling Prevention
Along the Southwest Border, cartels cavalierly recruit youth to smuggle hard narcotics, using a potent combination of cash inducements, false promises and lies that obscure future consequences. These juvenile recruiting tactics have increased in recent years, driving drug seizures from students up more than 150% in one year. Significantly, the drugs involved carry real dangers: in addition to cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, several high school students were caught attempting to smuggle deadly fentanyl across the border. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and DEA, the nominees created a multi-faceted program to educate youth about smuggling dangers and provide real resources and streamlined reporting avenues. The community partnership team, which included federal and local law enforcement, community activists, and social service providers, worked closely with school district officials in border communities. The team addressed the rise in juvenile smuggling crime and the public safety threat with innovative and effective prevention strategies. The resulting program included billboards, a powerful school assembly presented to thousands of at risk students, community meetings with parents and diverse stakeholders, messaging in mainstream and social media, and a peer-to-peer campaign that engaged area youth. The assemblies, in particular, had a compelling impact: the program emphasized fentanyl dangers, included a young smuggler’s dramatic post-arrest call to his mom, fully outlined collateral consequences, and conveyed a mom’s emotional message about her son’s overdose. More than 4,000 youth attended the program and the vast majority of surveyed students agreed it improved their knowledge of risks, convinced them smuggling is not worth it, and enabled them to make smart choices to protect their future. Moreover, a whopping 70% feel they now know where to get help if recruited. Fortunately, in addition to safeguarding youth, the program also furthered several ongoing investigations, as many students lined up after assemblies to provide solid tips and leads regarding cartel recruiting activities
Project LEAD brings law enforcement representatives to public schools to provide an eight-week instructional program that teaches fifth grade students to make wise choices. The program also serves as an informal mentoring program in which students are guided by volunteer instructors with government, law enforcement, criminal justice, and/or military backgrounds. These volunteer instructors encourage the students to explore their dreams and aim high when setting their goals. Currently, Project LEAD has reached more than 2,000 students at local elementary schools.
Success Agents, a mentoring program for high risk elementary students, is committed to helping vulnerable elementary school kids thrive, both in and outside of school. The program provides mentors, incentives, fun activities and support services that promote resilience, self-esteem, conflict resolutions skills and the discipline needed to make smart choices.
One important aspect of Success Agents is a weekly session designed to foster mentoring relationships and expand the horizons of these youth. The workshops feature restorative circles, visiting speakers, athletic activities and creative projects. Success Agents also works with school officials, parents and grandparents to identify needs and provide wraparound support to the entire family.
This program would not be possible without the support of the community partners who come together to help our youth. Anyone familiar with Success Agents can attest the mentors receive as much as they provide. It is deeply rewarding to offer guidance, support, and friendship to these students, who often face multiple challenges as they strive to reach their true potential.
Law Enforcement Recognition
Each year, the U.S. Attorneys hosts an “Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice” Awards Ceremony to recognize the federal, state and local law enforcement officers who made extraordinary contributions to the mission of our office — to do justice. Each day, our law enforcement partners leave their families, not knowing what dangers lurk ahead, because they are committed to making our community safer. At the Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice Awards Ceremony, we celebrate their achievements and recognize the sacrifices that they and their families make.