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Last night I went to the Orange County Curfew Sweep, which is part of the Gang Reduction Intervention Program (G.R.I.P). G.R.I.P. works with numerous school districts within Orange County in implementing targeted gang prevention strategies to at risk youth. The core components of G.R.I.P. include prevention efforts that focus on community engagement and education of faculty, parents and students on the risks and impacts of gang behaviors, and enforcement efforts that include truancy and curfew sweeps.
Press were invited to ride along with police officers to observe them pick up juveniles who were out after the 10 o’clock curfew. I actually did not ride in a police car…I stayed at the ‘command post’. When I arrived there were over sixty police officers from different cities, the Sheriff’s department, and Probation. The sweep started at 10 p.m. and was set to go until 1:30 a.m..
The theme of the event was “to send a message that the OC doesn’t tolerate curfew violators” — the exceptions were minors with an adult; those leaving work, school, religious functions; those standing outside their home, and anyone under ten years old. If they found someone under the age of ten they were to bring them directly home not the command center. Kids under ten years old are walking around alone after 10 p.m..?
I didn’t get to see as much as I thought I would, as far as the process goes because we were dealing with minors and the press was not allowed to be around them. I should have gone in a car, but walkers take up too much room. I need a walker to get around these days, but that’s another story…
I was able to talk with a few officers though and the main purpose of the sweep was to find kids who are not in gangs — yet. It sounded like a tamer version of Scared Straight. Basically the night was going to go like this…the cop spots a kid or kids basically ‘hanging out’ and asks them why they are out so late. If the cop decides to take the kid(s) in, he first calls the parents and instructs them to pick up their kid at said location. The kid gets processed (I never got a straight answer what that meant) and the parent gets a lecture. The kids are shown some gruesome photos of teens who were stabbed or shot, along with the time of night the picture was taken – to drive the idea home…”It’s dangerous to be loitering after 10 p.m.”– Then parent and child get to watch a movie together outside under the stars and it’s not a Disney show.
I was hoping to see for myself what the procedure was but like I mentioned before — they are minors and the media is not allowed. I was hoping to interview at least a few parents — were they surprised their kid was out of the house? Were the parents working and didn’t know their kids were out? I did ask the officers if they target any neighborhoods and their answer was, they drive all over the city to look for violators. I know there are some who see this as harassment. What do you think? One of my OJB colleagues got to ride along to pick up curfew violators so he maybe has a different perspective.