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Violence victims often demonstrate remarkable courage, detective says

By Ariella Rams

For the seventh week of the citizen’s academy, students visited the Orange County Family Justice Center, formerly Anaheim Family Justice Center.


The OCFJC is a place where victims of domestic, elder, child or sexual abuse can come to report crimes and get help.

“No matter what they need,” says Detective Phillip Han, “They can come here and get it. Any victim who has suffered any degree of abuse can come here to get help. Whether it be financial help with groceries or rent or even counseling services- if they need it, we provide it.”

In a given year in Anaheim alone, there are more than 2,890 family related crimes. The OCFJC hopes to change and significantly decrease that.

For Det. Han, the OCFJC is not only a place for him to help create change, but it is where he has seen some of the strongest acts of courage in his years on the force.

“When I see a battered victim make that move forward,” he says. “That move when you don’t know what’s next. You don’t know if social services will take your child, or where you will get your next meal—that’s the hardest thing to do. That’s very courageous, and it’s what this place is here for – to give victims as many resources as we possibly can.”

Through the OCFJC, survivors of domestic abuse can become part of the survivor’s academy, receive public education classes, access career resources or a use myriad of other services.

image002Following Det. Han’s informational session on domestic abuse, Lt. Sharon Pietrok taught the class the importance of self-defense, as well as key defense moves.

“Anything in your purse of pocket can be a weapon,” Lt. Pietrok told the class. “Keys can not only be a weapon, but if you put your key between your fingers as you make a fist, and punch them with it, or slice them… you’re collecting valuable DNA on that key that can help solve a crime—and save you.”

The key to self-defense, she told the class, is to know the ABC’s. Awareness, balance and control.

Always be aware of your surroundings. Is someone following you? Walking towards you? Staring at you? You need to know.

Never let yourself be off balance, she told the class. If a perpetrator is coming at you, you want to take a stance and either dodge them or be ready to take them on. And the decision needs to be made in an instant.

The third thing to keep in mind is to be in control. If you’re on stairs, stay at the higher level, Lt. Pietrok says.

“And you need to know that in a type of hostage situation,” she says. “A secondary location significantly reduces your chance of survival. Do your best to keep away from going to another location, because chances are you won’t survive.”

After educating the class on the logistics and tactics of self-defense, she quickly taught everyone a few important, life-saving moves.

“Go for their eyes, make them water,” she told the class. “Then go for their nose. It will bleed, a lot.”

She continued by teaching other maneuvers.

“And if someone grabs you from behind,” Lt. Pietrok says, “Stomp on their foot, or swing your hand back as hard as you can to get their crotch. Fight as best you can to get out.”

Anaheim’s Anti-Graffiti Effort A Model For Other Cities

The community came out in force last weekend to clean up and paint over graffiti in the Glen-Neighbors neighborhood.

Sgt. Rick Martinez took this shot of community members cleaning up the Glen-Neighbors neighborhood last weekend

Sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Greater Anaheim, Anaheim Beautiful and the city, neighbors toting garbage bags made a statement about wanting to maintain Anaheim’s reputation for being a safe and attractive place to live, officials said.

It’s the second Anaheim neighborhood adopted by community service groups. The Balsam-Curtis neighborhood has worked with Anaheim Beautiful and the city to reduce crime and clean up the neighborhood for more than a year.

The effort has garnered attention in the media – and from other cities.

A group of Anaheim officials will present their success story to Bakersfield police and city leaders Oct. 6, according to an article published in yesterday’s Orange County Register.

To read it, click here.

Busloads of Anaheim Students Join Chief in Cleaning Up Graffiti

Dozens of Anaheim students joined Police Chief John Welter, state Sen. Lou Correa and county supervisor Shawn Nelson last weekend in cleaning up trash and graffiti along the Katella Avenue railroad tracks.

To read an Orange County Register story about the effort – and view photos – click here.

City Leaders Celebrate Anti-Graffiti Effort’s Improvement of Anaheim Neighborhood

OC Register photo

Dozens of community members this weekend cleaned up the Balsam-Curtis
neighborhood for the fourth time this year – and then celebrated the
neighborhood’s improvement with a barbecue.

Anaheim PD’s Cops 4 Kids, city recreation leaders and bookmobile
librarians set up tents and talked with kids about programs the city
has to offer. The effort was organized by Anaheim Rotary, the police
department and Anaheim Beautiful.

“Our hope is that kids will pick up a book instead of spray cans and
focus on positive things,” Marty De Sollar, a city spokeswoman, told
the Orange County Register.

To read the Register’s story about the effort, click here.

Top Scholars Leading Anaheim’s Fight Against Graffiti

On the frontline of Anaheim’s battle against graffiti is Carmen Martinez, an Anaheim High School senior who plans to study government at Cornell University next year.

Valencia High senior Valentin Ortiz and Magnolia High senior Michelle Rodriguez discuss graffiti prevention

Joining her is Anaheim High classmate Erick Samayoa, 17, who earned a full scholarship to The Citadel military academy and Valentin Ortiz, a Valencia High School football star headed to the University of La Verne.

The scholars are among 16 Anaheim teen-agers who comprise Police Chief John Welter’s Anaheim Youth Advisory Council and play a key role in the Anaheim Community Anti-Graffiti Effort.

“What is graffiti?” Martinez asks rhetorically. “It’s a form of violence, and we don’t want it in our community.”

The group has spent hundreds of hours delivering anti-graffiti messages to elementary school children.

“They are doing a great job,” Welter said. “Who better than these talented high school students – role models to the younger generation – to provide this important curriculum.”

The effort is making a difference. Calls to a confidential graffiti hotline are up. So are court referrals for convicts assigned to community service. And overall awareness among Anaheim’s youngest children has never been higher, city officials say.

The teen-agers plan to put 350 children through the six-session curriculum by the end of August.

Community Services Supervisor of Youth Development Joe Perez and Youth Advisory Council Chairman Jesse Gutierrez

“We want to help our community,” Jesse Gutierrez, a University of California, San Diego-bound sociology student and chair of the youth council.

Gutierrez is also benefitting from the program. He earned a $5,000 Disney scholarship for the “Graffiti Hurts” curriculum, which he helped develop. It includes a Monopoly-style board game – a fun way to illustrate the damage taggers do.

Joe Perez, Anaheim’s Community Services Supervisor of Youth Development Programming, said most of the students are also police explorers or involved with Project S.A.Y. (Support Anaheim’s Youth) program.

Michelle Rodriguez is one of them. The Magnolia High school senior hopes to become a police officer after earning a criminal justice degree from Cal State Fullerton.

“It is a great program,” she said. “We’re learning a lot about leadership.”

The group’s officers are:
Chairman – Jesse Gutierrez
Vice Chair – Carmen Martinez
Treasurer – Angie Abarca
Secretary – Manuela Herrera
Vice Secretary – Michelle Rodriguez

Also attending last week’s meeting from Anaheim High School was senior Bryan Ortiz, juniors Andrea DeGuzman, Kevin Anaya and Jimena Galvan; sophomore Demetrio Gonzalez and Fatima Gutierrez, and Juan Iturbide. From Valencia High was senior Hector Guevara and from Katella High was senior Rosalva Rodriguez.

Support Anaheim’s Anti-Graffiti Effort at Taste of Anaheim

Talk about a win-win. The Taste of Anaheim is donating $5 to Anaheim Beautiful’s anti-graffiti effort for every ticket purchaser who enters the code “GRAFFITI.”

The 15th Annual Taste of Anaheim will be held May 13 from 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. at The Shops at Anaheim GardenWalk. More than 50 restaurants are participating. As always, there will be great live entertainment.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.tasteofanaheim.com.

For more about the Anaheim Community Anti-Graffiti Effort, click here.

Teen’s Anti-Graffiti Campaign Earns $5,000 Disney Scholarship

The Orange County Register featured Jesse Gutierrez in an article this week

An Anaheim teen-ager who worked with the police department to educate younger peers about the hazards of graffiti earned a $5,000 scholarship from Disney this week.

Jesse Gutierrez, a senior at Anaheim High School, is one of 10 students from throughout Orange County who earned scholarships for community involvement and academic achievement.

“I was amazed to see how the kids thought graffiti was fine,” he told the Orange County Register. Thoughout the program, the children begin to see the impact that graffiti had on their surroundings and realized that graffiti is not okay.”

To read the rest of the newspaper’s article, click here.