A federal grant to Santa Ana to help steer youngsters away from crime and learn why those behind bars wound up there is welcome recognition of the city's pioneering efforts in community policing.
Santa Ana will pick 100 eighth-graders who have failed at least two classes and will provide mentors and recreation programs for them. Police are asking churches and nonprofit organizations to provide the college-age mentors and tutors. Their job will be to get the youth interested in school.
The city's parks and recreation department will help create after-school sports programs. That is realistic recognition that even when children are kept busy in school and have parents at home at night, the hours between school and evening provide temptations and danger. Keeping children busy after school is important. Giving them the chance to have fun is the best way to make a program a success.
The Justice Department grant of $956,000 also will help pay for the city to earmark seven police officers and 13 recreation employees to the experimental program. Additionally, a USC professor will research Santa Ana residents who are in jail to get a better understanding of what causes crime in Orange County's largest city. The grant was not much of a surprise, considering that last year the Justice Department recognized Santa Ana's community policing program as one of the most successful models in the country.