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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS | COSTA MESA

City Latino Leaders, Police Discuss Issues

April 21, 1998|JOHN CANALIS

Latino leaders from Costa Mesa and two captains from the city's Police Department met Monday to discuss issues facing the city's west side.

The Latino Business Council invited Capts. Tom Warnack and James Watson and school principals, outreach counselors and business leaders for their input on crime, social conditions, the economic climate and other issues.

Police emphasized community policing techniques, such as bike patrols and citizens' police academies offered in Spanish and English, to strengthen relationships between police, educators and residents in the area west of Newport Boulevard.

"Most of it was a lot of positive feedback for us, which means we can keep doing what we're doing and stretch out a little further," Watson said. "They wanted us to become more familiar with the community outreach programs that are working in the city."

A concern about the desire to have more Spanish-speaking officers on the force was not discussed. However, the department is seeking more officers with Spanish-language skills, which are highly coveted by nearly every department in Southern California, Watson said.

Latino Business Council members also took the officers on a tour of the Save Our Youth Center on Hamilton Street, said Manfredo Lespier, president of the Latino council. The officers and other guests met with representatives from the program that promotes a drug- and gang-free lifestyle by offering after-school activities and cash incentives for good grades.

The council will meet again Thursday for a mixer at 5:30 p.m. at the Countryside Inn, 325 Bristol St.

Information: (714) 549-0300.

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