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Grant helps Lathrop cops
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LATHROP — Every year, the Lathrop Police Services offers a number of crime-prevention and drug-intervention programs that have consistently been popular with residents.

The school-based D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, for example, continues to graduate scores of elementary students each school year. Classes in the Junior Police Academy and its adult counterpart, the Citizen’s Academy, which are offered annually are always full.

These and other similar community policing programs fall under the responsibilities of the Police Services’ Community Resource Officer. That position is funded, in part, by a state grant called Citizens Option for Public Safety that cities like Lathrop receive every year. The first four years the grant was provided to Lathrop, the amount was $20,000 a year with the money used for various things that the police needed. Nine years ago, the grant was increased to $100,000. The City Council at that time decided to use part of the grant to fund the Community Resource Officer position, with subsequent councils upholding that decision every year. The position is currently held by Deputy Andrea Lopez.

Tuesday night, the CRO’s position was again secured with the council voting unanimously to allocate the same funds for this purpose following a public hearing which is required by the grant. The purpose of the public hearing is to identify the various needs of the police department to improve their efficiency and effectiveness in providing safety to the community.

Police programs that Community Resource Officer oversees are geared toward establishing pro-active relationships between the police force and the public at large as well as to promote quality of life. Among these ongoing programs are the Neighborhood Watch and annual National Night Out block parties, Red Ribbon Week, South County Crime Stoppers, Women’s Safety Awareness training program, elder abuse awareness and intervention, Internet safety,  CHP’s annual “Every 15 Minutes” event. Toys for Tots, as well as special events such as Lathrop Days, Harvest “Halloween” Festival, and the Lathrop Festival of Lights Parade at Christmas.

The continued funding of the community resource officer’s position will also make sure the following upcoming programs will be offered self-esteem workshops for junior high students, coordinating outreach and social services programs to help families during these hard economic times, and food donations and clothing drives for struggling families and pro-active intervention programs against domestic violence.

One of the most popular and successful programs that the police department provide each year is the school-based D.A.R.E. program. With drug-prevention and crime-intervention as its target and elementary-aged youth as its focus, DARE has been going on for many years and continues to enjoy popularity among the student participants.

“I think it’s a great program,” Councilman Robert Oliver said praising the success and effectiveness of DARE.

“But we need them all,” he said of the community programs and activities provided by the police department under the coordination of the community resource officer.