OCEANSIDE — The Neighborhood Services Department, police department and Oceanside Unified School District shared their current efforts to protect kids and prevent gangs at a workshop April 24.
The workshop was held following the March 13 gang shooting at Libby Lake Park that killed two teens and injured two others. The workshop’s goal was to share current efforts and brainstorm further interventions to fill in the gaps.
The city currently offers neighborhood-tailored youth and family programs in Eastside, Libby Lake and Crown Heights. Vista Community Clinic runs city youth programs in Libby Lake and Eastside. North County Lifeline runs city youth programs in Crown Heights. Grant funds help support the programs.
Programs in Crown Heights recently expanded to a second facility that will enable 30 more children to attend and more parenting classes to be given.
Nonprofits, faith based groups and neighborhood organizations also run youth support programs throughout the city.
“We need neighbors to be involved,” Brendan Mangan, neighborhood services management analyst, said.
He added that community groups make a big impact. “The longer we see them in our neighborhood the more we see change.”
Police safety resource officers work on school campuses to curb unruly behavior and prevent crimes. They also serve as a regular communication link between the police department and school district.
In addition to safety resource officers, the school district has two campus supervisor officers and 32 campus supervisor assistants on its middle school and high school campuses.
Oceanside Unified School District Communications Director Steve Lombard explained procedures that the school district Crisis Emergency Team goes through to ensure safety and counseling services are in place when an emergency affects a school campus.
The team of 10 key district personnel stays in constant communication through an emergency situation, sometimes sending text messages in the late hours to update the team.
Lombard explained the feeling of receiving an emergency text.
“We all know what type of morning it’s going to be the next morning,” he said.
Each emergency allows the district to fine tune its safety procedures in order to continue the school day and allow students to return home with as little disruption as possible.
“We’re time certain,” Larry Perondi, OUSD superintendent, said. “We start at 7 a.m., kids are there and ready to go.
“In Oceanside, safety is first and foremost for our kids,” he added.
The school district also initiated the Kids First program this year that teaches students character building values.
Most people in attendance said they felt positive about how police quickly solved the gang shooting and the city’s ongoing efforts to combat gangs.
“I believe we have a united front to squash gangs in Oceanside,” Janet Lacy, OUSD board member, said.
Perondi and City Manager Peter Weiss agreed that the workshop got the discussion going on how to protect kids and fill in the gaps in services.
“The city and community gave a complete picture on what we do to respond to emergencies,” Perondi said. “Now we can find ways to fill in the gaps.”
“It’s a ‘we’ thing,” Weiss said. “We can build upon it.”
Further suggestions from presenters and community members included expanding current programs, further collaboration between organizations and seek additional grant funding. The challenge for Spanish speaking parents to keep informed on what is going on was also mentioned.
Weiss said city staff would review information shared at the workshop and bring back suggestions to council May 15.