|For Immediate Release
December 3, 2008
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
*TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME*
ANGELS BASEBALL JOINS COPS AND PROSECUTORS TO SURPRISE 1,800 STUDENTS WITH PROMISE
OF FREE TICKETS FOR STAYING IN SCHOOL
AND SAYING NO TO GANGS
ORANGE COUNTY – At four schools located in north and south ends of the County, 1,800 elementary and middle school students in grades four through eight gathered this morning for assemblies. The 9 to 13 year old students first got the lecture they expected – stay in schools, stay out of gangs…messages they had all heard before.
After the Pledge of Allegiance led by the respective school principals, Senior Assistant District Attorney Jim Tanizaki and Senior Deputy District Attorney Tracy Rinauro, Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) prosecutors in charge of gang prevention and education, laid down the law. “The law says you have to come to school on time, every day, unless you have a legitimate excused absence,” said Tanizaki. “See the team of uniformed law enforcement officers standing behind you? They were at the truant students homes in October and November. Those kids were brought to school in police cars for unexcused absences and we called their parents,” said Rinauro. The prosecutors also warned the kids that gang activity may lead to only two things – prison or death.
In October and November of 2008, eight schools, including seven elementary schools and one middle school, conducted truancy sweeps as part of the Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (GRIP). GRIP identifies students with excessive truancy problems and aims to increase attendance and decrease gang activity. These eight schools in Anaheim, San Juan Capistrano, and Stanton, included Del Obispo Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, Kinoshita Elementary, Marco F. Forester Middle, Olive Street Elementary, Robert M. Pyles Elementary, San Juan Elementary, and Esther L. Walter Elementary Schools.
Anaheim Police Chief John Welter, Orange County Assistant Sheriff Mike James and Orange County Sheriff Lieutenant Dan Dwyer, wearing full dress uniforms, then challenged students to complete the school year with no unexcused absences, no criminal activity or arrests, no violence or weapons on campus, and no gang related clothing, writing, or behavior.
Then came the surprise visit by Angels representatives. Director of Communications Tim Mead, and Broadcasters Rex Hudler and Terry Smith offered free tickets to a baseball game at Angel Stadium as an incentive for students who meet the attendance and anti-gang criteria at the end of the school year. The yawns and boredom turned into smiles and applause as Hudler and Smith tossed out Angels hats and shirts and offered encouragement to the students by sharing their personal stories of hardship and success.
A February 2008 GRIP survey in Anaheim showed that 60 percent of students said there was gang graffiti infesting their neighborhoods, 79 percent of teachers said that there are indications of gang influence on their elementary school students, and 84 percent of parents said they are worried about the gang activity in their neighborhoods.
“Our organization is very proud to be part of such an important program,” said Mead. “We support the continual and combined efforts of school officials, teachers and the law enforcement community in providing proper direction for all the children throughout our community. This program represents just a fraction of their efforts throughout the year and the Angels are pleased to be part of it.”