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Police Department takes proactive approach to fighting gangs

By Shay Arthur
Published On: Nov 19 2013 09:23:22 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 20 2013 11:43:07 AM CST
RED BLUFF, Calif. -

The Red Bluff Police Department is taking a proactive approach to fighting gangs.

Starting Dec. 2 Vista Middle School and other elementary schools in Red Bluff will have a GREAT officer.

'GREAT' stands for gang resistance education and training.

The officer, will work as the school's resource officer with a special focus on stopping gang or violent behavior involvement early.

Last week two 14-year-old boys were arrested at Red Bluff High School.

The fight stemmed from an alleged gang rivalry.

The two were booked into Juvenile Hall on suspicion of participating in a criminal street gang.

Red Bluff Union High School District's superintendent Lisa Escobar said her school does deal with gang elements.

"We connect with those kids right away, talk with them daily, find out what they're associated with," said Escobar.

Red Bluff Police Chief Paul Nanfito says the goal of the GREAT program is to change a kid's mindset before they ever make it that far in their education.

"If we can influence them at the 6th, 7th and 8th grade level that's the time a student is most at risk and I think we can have the greatest impact if we start then," said Nanfito.

The GREAT officer, who has been with the Red Bluff Police Department for about six years, will be full time in the classroom helping students develop positive life skills as well as helping at-risk youth.

Nanfito said the learning won't stop in the classroom.    

"The officer will be going out and doing out-reach with parents for signs that their kids may be getting involved in gangs."

Nanfito said due to a tight budget, the Red Bluff Police Department has been without a formal gang task force for 13 years and believes this new program is a proactive approach that will make a lasting impact.

The program is funded through a state grant.

Nanfito hopes it will be in place for two to three years and hopefully longer.