| NEWS of the Day - July 29, 2012
|on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
From the L.A. Daily News
Graduation from LAPD's 'Boot Camp' comes at a price
by Dakota Smith
Video footage of the Los Angeles Police Department's "boot camp" for children and teens is hard to watch.
"You want to throw up?" shouts an LAPD officer to a young boy complaining of stomach pains. "Stop lagging!" the officer yells.
The video, available on YouTube, show scenes from the LAPD's Juvenile Impact Program, an ongoing military-style camp intended to turn around troubled young people, ages 9-17.
The LAPD officers' aggressive nature surprises some parents as well as those unused to seeing children -- some looking distressed -- being disciplined.
"I couldn't look," said Sonja Serna of watching her 12-year son Marc being ordered around by LAPD officers during this year's class. "My husband told me not to."
Serna was one of a few hundred parents who attended a graduation ceremony Saturday at Van Nuys High School for children and teens in the program.
Like other parents, she praised the 12-week program for improving kids' grades and behavior, despite her initial reservations about how the officers yelled at the children.
In fact, some parts of the program have softened in recent years. LAPD Officer Michelle Smith, who helps oversee the program, said the officers are no longer allowed to spray water on the children and make them roll through muddy lawns.
Additionally, the program now bans LAPD cadets -- younger LAPD representatives ages 13 and older - from overseeing kids.
"They didn't want kids yelling at kids," Smith said.
During the program, which meets once a week, the children undergo strenuous physical exercise, meet with counselors to discuss drug use issues, or hear from ex-convicts.
At Saturday's event, they were far more varied in their assessment of the program. Some said the kids deserved to be yelled at. Others weren't so sure.
"It makes you not care anymore when they yell at you," said Juan Cruz, 14, as he stood outside the high school. "We just block it out."
Tom Ward, associate professor of teaching in the Department of Anthropology at USC and an author of books on gangs, said the problem with "scared straight" programs is the approach can just harden kids.
"It doesn't mean that these programs don't have success," he said, adding that scare tactics usually work more on those who haven't yet gotten in trouble.
No studies have been done to gauge the impact of the Juvenile Impact Program, reflecting a larger issue of how to measure the success of such programs.
L.A. Bridges, an anti-gang initiative, was disbanded by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa during his first term amid questions about its effectiveness. But Villaraigosa's Summer Night Lights, a program that keeps parks open at night in gang-plagued neighborhoods, is touted as a success by city officials.
Smith believes the boot camp is working. As for those with concerns about the aggressive nature of the officers, she said: "All we are really doing is yelling at them... It's similar to what they do in the military. It's yelling to get their attention, to wake them up to the fact that they aren't in charge."
But she also pointed out: "It's not for every kid."