A unique program by the San Diego Police Department aims to get young people off the street and out of trouble.
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Curfew sweeps by the San Diego Police Department pick up children and teenagers out after curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. With the help of the community, it is one of the most successful programs in the country.
According to San Diego police, the number of violent crimes involving teenagers has dropped from 4.7 percent last year to 3.7 percent this year.
"We're here because we care about them, period," said Dana Brown, who volunteers at Cherokee Point Elementary School during curfew sweeps. The school is where police take minors who have been picked up.
Brown said she calls the parents of minors sometimes as young as 7 years old to let them know their child is safe.
"It's not a call from the hospital," said Brown. "It's not a call from the morgue. It's not an officer showing up at their door [saying] that something horrific has happened to their child."
From July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, police patrol commands have conducted 46 curfew sweeps resulting in 1,358 juvenile detentions. Of that number, 848 were sent to a four to six-week diversion program. Once completed, nothing appears on the minor's record.
"We believe that we are
protecting them from their own selves at times and we're also preventing them from committing crimes or making poor decisions," said San Diego police Capt. Todd Jarvis.
Godwin Higa, the principal at Cherokee Point Elementray School, said sometimes the parents are upset that their child was picked up but in the end, they are grateful.
"The parents will come to me and say, 'It helps me now, because I can tell them, "You better not be out at 10 or you know what's going to happen,"'" said Higa.
Because of the success rate, the program may become a model for other cities across the country.
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