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New San Marcos outreach facility sits empty due to coronavirus

Posted at 5:56 PM, Feb 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-21 20:56:54-05

SAN MARCOS, Calif. (KGTV) - San Diego Sheriff's Department deputies in San Marcos have hit a roadblock in their efforts to help the youth in their community.

In 2014, Deputy Dustin Nelson and Deputy Todd Baker started the RESPECT program as a way of helping keep kids on the right path.

“We focus on building relationships with the youth in our community in the hopes of reducing juvenile delinquency, keeping kids out of gangs, helping them with issues at home,” said deputy Nelson.

The program did so well that the sheriff's department decided to give them their own facility to be a central hub for the kids. The facility was set to be open and filled with students by the beginning of 2021, but because of current restrictions, the building sits empty, and the deputies have had to adjust their outreach.

“COVID has forced us to look alternative ways of communication, so we’ve done a lot things virtually through text messaging, phone calls, social media,” said Deputy Nelson.

Once it is safe to gather together, the new building will be a central place for RESPECT program participants to meet. They’ll have entertainment like games and sports equipment, plus tools like computers to work on school assignments.

“I think our plan for RESPECT project is to really turn this into a one-stop-shop where all of the resources that these students need and their families can benefit from, we can offer here under one roof,” said Deputy Nelson.

About a dozen kids go through the RESPECT program every cycle.

Deputy Nelson added that this is a way to not only help the youth, but also create trust with law enforcement.

“The deputies can see the students in a different light and the students again can see the deputies in a different light as well,” said Deputy Nelson.