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AFJC Honors Graduates of Children’s Survivor’s Academy

By Kevin Rice

Police Chief John Welter offered hugs and congratulations at the Kids Creating Change graduation ceremony

After walking into the Anaheim Family Justice Center (AFJC) and witnessing the laughter and playfulness in of each child, one would never assume that just a short time ago, these children were being physically abused and witnessing violence in their homes.

The mood was joyous last Friday at the graduation ceremony for Kids Creating Change, AFJC Foundation’s Children’s Survivor’s Academy.

Much like its predecessor, the innovative Survivor’s Academy, an eight-week program for women that was founded in 2009, Kids Creating Change is a 20-hour program that provides children of violence the knowledge and skills to shatter the cycle of abuse.

Kids Creating Change covers: conflict resolution/playground bullying; anger management; communication skills; physical health; and, effective family communication (combined parents and children, with breakout sessions).

To accomplish effective learning, the children are grouped into classes of no more than 15 children per age group and provided age appropriate lessons and activities. Juan Gutierrez, 6, and Emily Flores, 7, said that they love to come to Kids Creating Change.

“We did fun things like drawings and Play-Doh,” said Flores.

Michelle Jaimes, 9, is all smiles after receiving her diploma

The graduation ceremony included a certificate presentation to the graduates, words of thanks from the Anaheim Police Department, including Anaheim Police Chief John Welter, a potluck and a special visit from a pair of singers from Anaheim High School.

The students sang “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz and “Firework” by Katy Perry to the tune of an acoustic guitar.

Welter took the stage once again and thanked the parents for allowing their children to participate in this program, but it was the parents that wanted to thank Welter and the many program leaders.

“Muchas gracias por su tiempo (thank you very much for your time),” said one grateful parent.

“Important work is done here; the kids are so sweet and they love to come,” said Susan Bruegman, retired kindergarten teacher and AFJC Foundation Board of Trustees and volunteer with and co-founder of the Kids Creating Change program, “but the real joy is seeing the parents’ faces as the program progresses.”

Local Authors, Police and City Leaders to Read Children’s Books to Survivors at Anaheim Family Justice Center

Mark your calendars for a great evening of family fun at the Anaheim Family Justice Center.

Susan M. Finch

Children’s author and former Anaheim Web designer Susan M. Finch and illustrator Alison Seda will read their book, Dino Manners, and sign books and posters to raise money for AFJC. They won’t be the only readers. Anaheim Police Chief John Welter and City Attorney Cristina Talley plan to read select passages to the children of family violence survivors.

Also joining the action: Author Michelson Simonsen – creator of the popular character Officer Byrd.

This book signing event will be held at the AFJC, located at 150 West Vermont Avenue on March 5 from 4-7:30pm. The public is invited.

Dino Manners is a creative and humorous way to teach young people how to be a good friend, resolve conflicts and stand up for themselves. The book empowers the invisible kids – those who need a voice and those who need to find their voice for their futures. Plus, it’s chock-full of dinosaur facts.

McDonald’s will provide light refreshments.

“We are thrilled to welcome such accomplished authors to AFJC,” said Kerith Dilley, the foundation’s executive director. “Their messages are right on target – and their generosity is another outstanding example of how our community responds to those in need.”

Dino Manners will be sold at the March 5 book signing and 30% of the retail price will be contributed to the AFJC Foundation. Additionally, donors have purchased advance copies of the book that will be contributed to children served by the AFJC.

Book posters will be signed by the author and illustrator. All profits from the posters will also be contributed to the AFJC Foundation to empower survivors of family violence.

The AFJC is a one-stop center for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and sexual assault. Through its unique, co-located service delivery model, the AFJC effectively facilitates access to a wide variety of social and public services that survivors of family violence need to break the cycle of violence.

Empowerment and direct victim assistance programs are also offered through the AFJC Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to positively impact the families, whose lives have been affected by family violence, and who seek services through the AFJC.

To donate or for more information, please contact Dilley at kdilley@anaheim.net.

Chief Welter Shares New Year’s Resolutions With OC Metro

OC Metro magazine asked five business leaders, including Anaheim Police Chief John Welter, to share their professional goals for 2010.

Chief Welter

The feature, headlined “New Year’s Resolutions That Really Matter,” was published in the magazine’s December edition.

Welter offered three resolutions.

“1) Help community members partner in solving neighborhood problems: Many problems police respond to cannot be solved by the police. Problems are frequently environmental or location issues. Problem-Oriented Policing involves analyzing problems and developing responses that address why crime occurs, not just who did it. Residents and business owners need to remove the opportunities for crime to occur.

“2) Keep Anaheim police productive and effective: Reduced budgets mean fewer police officers. We have the responsibility to keep millions of residents and visitors safe. The financial success of Anaheim depends on safety, whether one lives, works or just visits our beautiful city.

“3) Provide effective, healthy choices for youth: We have been successful with our Cops 4 Kids program (C4K) and our Gang Reduction and Intervention Project (GRIP). Both focus on young people before they join a gang or engage in other destructive behaviors.”

To read the resolutions of the other business leaders, click here.

Anaheim’s Drop in Crime ‘Huge,’ Chief Says

Chief Welter

It’s not all bad news.

Despite one of the worst recessions on record, Anaheim’s crime rate continues to plummet.

Robberies? Down 11.6 percent. Property crimes? Down 15.5 percent. All violent crime? Down 7.9 percent.

“That’s huge,” said Police Chief John Welter, flipping through the FBI’s most recent statistics.  “You’d think that during a down economy – with people out of work and losing their homes – they might be out committing more thefts.”

Not in Anaheim.

Behind the Badge recently sat down with Chief Welter to discuss Anaheim’s crime numbers.

The Orange County Register published the interview on its Web site. To read it, click here.


Public Safety Involves More Than Having Officers Respond to Crime, Chief Says

More than 500 police experts from around the globe gathered Monday at the Disneyland Hotel to share success stories and new strategies for engaging the public in the fight against crime.

Chief Welter POP

Chief Welter addresses the conference crowd

“We all need to be ready to make the case for public safety being more than just having officers respond to crime,” said Anaheim Police Chief John Welter at the 20th annual “Problem-Oriented Policing Conference.” “In the long run, a problem solving strategy is so much more effective and financially efficient.”

The conference features three days of seminars from top law enforcement officials and criminal justice academics.

Coined by University of Wisconsin professor Herman Goldstein, Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) emphasizes research, analysis, prevention and the participation of public and private organizations.

“Most of our private sector partners require just a little help and direction,” Welter said. “But we all need to lead that effort by providing accurate and convincing crime information… and then following up with concrete examples of what community members can do – and how they can do it.”

David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay University in New York, noted several simple ways police can deter repeat offenders. One involves more honest and direct communication.

“If all you do is tell them (how to avoid prison) – you get huge changes in behavior,” he said, adding, “no sane human being wants to go to prison.”

Kennedy also encouraged police to think beyond the traditional criminal justice system – to informal social controls – in developing deterrence strategies.

An effective technique involves family member participation.David Kennedy's "Deterrence and Crime Prevention"

“Most offenders harbor real doubts about what they are doing,” he said. “When they don’t care – get the people around them to care.”

To illustrate the power of the strategy, he asked: “When you were a kid, how many of you were afraid of police officers?”

Only a few hands went up.

“How many were afraid of your mother?”

Most hands went up.

Most offenders still listen to their mothers, friends or other influencers, he said.

“Just find the pressure points wherever you can,” he said.

Later this week, the Herman Goldstein Award will be given to a police agency that exhibited innovation and effective use of POP techniques to resolve a community problem. Anaheim PD was a finalist for the award in 2007 for its effort in cleaning up The Boogie! nightclub. To read APD’s submission, click here

For more about the conference or POP strategies, visit the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing’s Web site here and download one of its many innovative guides.

Anaheim to Host Problem-Oriented Policing Conference

Hundreds of the brightest minds in law enforcement will convene in Anaheim next week for the 20th annual Problem-Oriented Policing conference.POP Conference

The three-day event, scheduled for Monday-Wednesday at the Disneyland Hotel, “is often described by attendees as the most substantive policing conference they’ve ever attended.”

Seminars will be held on topics ranging from “Stemming Motor Vehicle Break-ins” to “Graffiti: Tag, Your Out” to “The Mechanics of Community Development.”

Anaheim PD has also been called upon to present. Police Chief John Welter will join Michael Scott from the Center of Problem Oriented Policing in opening the conference – and welcoming attendees. On Tuesday, APD Sgt. Tim Schmidt and Officer Dave Wiggins will present “Using Situational Crime Prevention in Anti-Terrorism Efforts: Manipulating Risk, Effort, Reward, Excuse and Provocation.”

For more, visit http://www.popcenter.org/

And check Behind the Badge for daily reports from the conference.

Cops 4 Kids Anaheim Chamber’s Non-Profit of the Year

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An Anaheim Police Department charity aimed at helping at-risk youth make better decisions was named the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce’s non-profit of the year, officials announced today.

Cops 4 Kids, a 12-year-old non-profit best known for its innovative Junior Cadet Program, has made a difference in the lives of thousands of children.

Jr. Cadet Program

Click on the photo to see an OC Register profile of the Jr. Cadet Program

“They do a lot for children in the area and are very deserving of the award,” said Melodie Farr, a chamber spokeswoman.

Police Chief John Welter said the department was honored to be recognized.

“The award validates the important difference our officers have made in the lives of so many children,” he said. “Community support plays a critical role in our success. I invite residents, business leaders and others to get involved.”

C4K is holding a fund-raiser Nov. 13. For details, click here. The chamber will honor Cops 4 Kids at a luncheon Dec. 10.

Below is some background on Cops 4 Kids.

Introduction

When Anaheim police officers hear crime rates have dropped nationwide, they take heart in knowing they are part of a grassroots effort that is making important contributions toward that worthy goal. A spin off of the Anaheim Police Activities League, the Cops 4 Kids program provides a safe haven to hundreds of youth and teaches them to shun the temptation of crime and instead be productive citizens.

“Every hour our kids spend at the C4K facility or in one of our community programs, is one less hour a drug dealer, child abuser, or other criminal has access to these precious children,” said Welter. “Law enforcement is focused on reducing local crime. C4K goes to the root-source of what makes our youth decide the type of citizen they will become as they grow up.”Cops 4 Kids

The impact of the effort is particularly apparent now. During recessionary times, crime rates historically spike. Crime prevention and community building programs such as C4K play a key role in maintaining Anaheim’s outstanding safety record.  “Especially for the younger kids, this is an opportunity for them to have their first interaction with the police department be a positive one,” said Cathy Dutton, president of C4K’s board of directors. “Then they won’t have a negative or fearful reaction when they encounter the police and know that they are there to help them and guide them throughout their lives.”

History

C4K began in 1995 when a few Anaheim police officers began teaching karate to neighborhood children. The need and benefit was immediately evident. The department formed the Anaheim Police Activities League. Over the years, APAL has mentored thousands of former bullies, truants and troubled teens. In the past three years alone, more than 2,500 children have been touched by the program, which was recently re-branded to better describe its expanded mission.

C4K’s Mission, Goals and Values

C4K’s mission is to use simple techniques like friendship, dancing, fishing and camping, music and trips to Big Bear Lake in developing responsible, respectful and disciplined character traits. For many participants, the excursions are an exciting first-time adventure. Another goal and value is creating lasting bonds between law enforcement and at-risk youth.

The program’s growth and leadership

When public funding for the DARE program disappeared, the department’s school resource officers acted immediately to replace it with a program that is arguably even more effective – the Junior Cadet program.  The first of its kind in California, the innovative program puts children through a military-like academy, teaching them citizenship and respect for authority and others. It has become a model copied by other police departments.  Another barometer of its success: About half the kids from the beginner cadet courses return for advanced classes. Several later become police explorers.

Maria Montesdeoca is an Anaheim parent who put her son through the program and saw an improvement in his attitude and his attention to things like homework. “He’s now more responsible,” she said. “After the program, he pays more attention to me. I really recommend other parents bring their kids. It’s really good.”Junior Cadets

The Anaheim Police Department has assigned two full-time staffers to C4K.  Dozens of officers volunteer as youth mentors. Thanks to help from a local charity, C4K recently moved into a new building near Lincoln Elementary School.

Innovation and success

In addition to the Jr. Cadet program, officers interact with the neighborhood kids in the C4K Community Services Vehicle. The yellow VW Bus has a 3,000-watt deejay booth complete with a full stage, LED lighting, wireless microphones, colorful tall logo flags and a big screen plasma TV. This mobile entertainment platform is popular with the kids, and helps spread positive messages.

Community partnerships

C4K’s Board of Directors consists of representatives from the Anaheim City School District, the Anaheim Union High School District, the Anaheim City Council, Disneyland, Clean City, and numerous local businesses. The YMCA and Boys and Girls Club and Downtown Youth Center are also partners.

Working together, the community partners have made a significant impact on overall crime prevention – and helped thousands of children become better citizens.