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Probation gets grant for staffers at schools

June 12, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The Imperial County Probation Department has received a $513,277 grant that will allow it to staff one or more probation officers in each school district in the county.

County Chief Probation Officer Mike Kelley said this morning his department will use $235,290 to cover the cost of hiring three additional probation officers. The department has 46 probation officers.

The Probation Department will give $210,000 to police activities leagues to help those groups provide after-school activities for youths.

Kelley said another $67,987 will go toward expanding the Peer Court program, now run only in the North County, to the South County.

Peer Court is a program in which youth hold court for misdemeanors committed by other youth.

The grant from the state comes from the Crime Prevention Act of 2000 designed to aid communities in efforts to decrease youth crime.


While Kelley said the grant is for one year, it could be extended each year for at least another four years, depending on each state budget. He said the county could continue to receive $500,000 in grants as part of the Crime Prevention Act each year without having to reapply.

Kelley said in recent years his department has been working to obtain grants to increase the presence of probation officers in schools.

He said adding the three officers will allow the department to assure there is at least one probation officer for every district. In some cases there will be more than one probation officer per district.

He said the additional officers will "complete the circle" the department has been working on to make sure a probation officer can respond to any school site within moments of a call for service.

Kelley said the expansion of services in recent years has enabled the Probation Department to help cut youth crime in the Imperial Valley.

The application for the grant states probation programs have helped lead to a reduction in youth crimes such as burglaries, auto thefts and vandalism in the form of graffiti. Kelly also said there has been a reduction in truancy.

Of the police activities leagues, Kelley said such programs run by police departments are a key element of crime prevention. He said the programs give youths positive activities after school.

Kelley said the Peer Court program has been effective in North County at cutting youth crime, and he added the program is expected to be equally positive when it is expanded into South County.

Kelley said of the efforts by his department to control youth crime, "When we keep the check, there is less crime, more school attendance and more attention to kids."

He said the department is trying to serve as a resource in the community to prevent crime before it occurs.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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