By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Chief pushes for mobile rec van to serve youth at city parks
Placeholder Image
Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker believes Manteca has more than 40 solid locations that can engage kids in wholesome activities and help counter the lure of gangs.

They’re called parks.

Bricker said households where both parents often work or there is a single parent are not going to be comfortable to send their kids to a park to play after school by themsleves or even with a friend.

“It’s not like back when we were kids where parks had a small room that had balls and other play equipment that would be handed out and them put up when someone blew a whistle,” Bricker said.

Bricker is working with the Manteca Parks & Recreation staff through the Police Chief’s Initiative to obtain a vehicle - possibly a van - that could literally take basketballs, sporting equipment and things to various neighborhood parks on a rotating basis.

The rationale behind bringing back park playground programs is three-fold.

•Most juvenile delinquency issues - from burglaries to vandalism - occur between the end of school and 7 p.m.  After-school programs much as those at playgrounds, Give Every Child a Chance’s After-School Advantage Program, and the Boys & Girls Club are the type credited with helping drop juvenile delinquency issues.

•Neighborhood youth involved in such a program at a park would develop relationships with non-gang members.

•Parks used by the neighborhoods are less likely to slip under control of gangs.

The Police Chief’s Initiative was launched by Bricker and the Manteca Police Department in a bid to put in place long-term efforts to not just put the influence of gangs in check but to work on diverting youth away from gangs to reduce crime in the future.

It isn’t unusual for kids as young as 9 years old to be pressured to join or at least affiliate with gangs to avoid being hassled or beaten up.

Gang officers have noted that a number of youth end up joining gangs because they want to belong to something and the most readily available option is getting involved with gangs.