Youth topics top district crime forum

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer

Youth topics rose to the top of a discussion between civic leaders and community members at a public safety forum held Monday night to discuss crime concerns in Clovis.

Graffiti, truancy and boredom among youth moved to the forefront as law enforcement described programs — either current or planned — aimed at targeting those issues.

Peter Penney, a Clovis resident of 30 years and member of the Sunrise Optimist Club, told the panel of law enforcement and community leaders the number one thing he hears from kids is there’s nothing to do in the area.

He suggested support of youth-driven clubs or groups.

Steve Reshetar, executive director of Matt 25 Hope Center, said his group is working in conjunction with local youth to start a drop-in center for teens.

Some of the other measures leaders are taking to curb issues typically associated with youth-based crime are truancy programs in the schools and graffiti abatement, they said.

County Manager Dick Smith encouraged community members to mentor or volunteer with youth programs in hopes of giving positive influence to kids before they get into the (penal) system.

“Our detention center is a lot like an emergency room at a hospital; once they get there a lot of damage is done,” Smith said.

Mayor David Lansford said he’s learned as a father and husband happiness is a pretty simple formula.

“It’s about having something to do, somebody to love and something to hope for,” Lansford said. “When (kids) find a gang they have found (those things). It’s pretty simple, just love them, give them something to do and something to hope for.”

District Attorney Matt Chandler, whose office hosted the meeting, said his office plans to hold public safety forums annually.