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New Hope backs Chief’s Initiative

$6,000 to help keep kids out of trouble

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New Hope backs Chief’s Initiative

New Hope Associate Pastor Jack Coldren with his arm around Senior Pastor Tom Kemptner and the rest of the congregation that took part in "Uncle Phil's Diner" production present a check for $6,000 t...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/

POSTED January 5, 2009 12:23 a.m.
New Hope Church has embraced the Chief’s Initiative — an effort targeting at risk youths with prevention programs — in a big way.
The congregation Sunday through Senior Pastor Tim Kemptner presented Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker with $6,000 they raised while staging a play dubbed “Uncle Phil’s Diner” complete with meal service in mid-November.
The Chief’s Initiative is a non-profit account that solicits donations to help fund a wide variety of activities aimed at helping turn youth susceptible to gang recruitment toward other paths.
Bricker has noted “gangs are a lifestyle.” The chief has pointed out Manteca Police officers have arrested fathers and grandfathers of gang members they’re dealing with today and will end up arresting their kids unless something is done to break the cycle.
Bricker is hopeful that a full-court press by the community will help steer kids away from gangs including those who are coming with more frequency from Middle Class families.
“When I grew up in Lathrop, if I got into trouble someone would have called my parents before I got home and I’d be in trouble,” Bricker said in October. “That doesn’t happen today with two-income families. There is nothing wrong with two-income families but they often are away from home until well after 6 p.m.”
That plays into the time when juvenile crime is at its peak – after school to 7 p.m. — when youth are often left unsupervised.
Besides providing after schoool diversions, the Chief Initiative is helping fund ventures such as the Drug Store. It is program similar to Every 15 Minutes that targets high schools about the dangers of driving and driving. But it focuses instead of the dangers of drug use and aims it at elementary school students.
Ed Fichtner, a retired teacher and former Manteca Unified School District board member, was so impressed when he saw the Drug Store program staged at a Stanislaus County school that he donated $1,000 to the Chief’s Initiative for that purpose.
Bricker has noted that parents are not comfortable telling their kids to go play at the neighborhood park of which Manteca has 48.
The reason is simple. The one area that gangs have worked at to establish their turf are parks. Several have developed problems that the police are addressing including Southside and Union West. One gang has even named itself after a park — the Northside Northgate Gangsters.
The police are working with the Manteca Parks and Recreation Department to establish playground programs at neighborhood parks. If community funding is available, one avenue may be purchasing a trailer that can take various playground equipment to parks where it might be possible to provide paid playground program supervisors after school.
The department is also establishing a Police Activities League and working with Give Every Child a Chance and the Boys & Girls Club to expand programs and decentralize them so they can easily access them.
The Chief’s Initiative will help fund PAL and other efforts.
Bricker has indicated there are a lot of officers who can’t wait to get involved with PAL. No officers will be paid for their efforts.
One PAL activity that is expected to be established is a BMX team that will utilize talent in the ranks to coach and coordinate and unclaimed stolen bikes to provide for kids who don‘t have one.
Bricker hopes more faith-based initiatives such as the Southside Christian Church’s successful Fun in the Neighborhood on Friday nights this past summer will take place. It drew more than 100 participants each Friday night in a neighborhood combating gangs.
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