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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Sheriff Honors Anti-Gang Volunteers

November 08, 1994|DOUGLAS ALGER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SANTA CLARITA — Forty-nine volunteers credited with battling gang activity here were recognized Monday in an awards ceremony hosted by Sheriff Sherman Block and Santa Clarita officials.

Block thanked residents who have been involved with the Santa Clarita Anti-Gang Task Force, a group created in January, 1991, as part of an overall effort by the Sheriff's Department to get the public involved in crime awareness and prevention.

He praised participants for their "recognition of the threat of gangs if left unattended" and for continuing their anti-crime efforts.

"Working on the gang problem can be frustrating, and sometimes we don't see the results as quickly as we would like to," Block said.

More than 160 people have participated in activities planned by the Santa Clarita task force, ranging from cleaning up graffiti to successfully lobbying a clothing store chain to stop carrying T-shirts with logos believed to be sympathetic to gang members. Last month, the group promoted Turn Off the Violence Day, in which residents were encouraged to avoid violent TV shows and other entertainment.

Volunteers also are credited for quickly cleaning up graffiti this year. Residents reported 347 incidents of graffiti from January through June, down from 557 during the same six-month span last year, according to Santa Clarita's Public Works Department.

"The task force has been doing a lot of work, and people don't know who has been doing it," said Cecilia Burda, who oversees the volunteer task force on behalf of the city. "It's hard to drive around and find graffiti here."

Organizers of the city's fourth annual Teen Spring Clean, held in May, struggled to find enough graffiti to keep dozens of volunteers busy for a few hours on a Saturday morning.

Later that month, the City Council was comfortable enough with anti-gang efforts to halve the cash award offered for information about graffiti vandalism.

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