Pasadena Police Chief Asks for Help Fighting Violence During Hillsides Peace Forum

first_imgPublic Safety Pasadena Police Chief Asks for Help Fighting Violence During Hillsides Peace Forum From STAFF REPORTS Published on Friday, February 27, 2015 | 5:14 pm Community News Top of the News Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. Free.Get all the latest Pasadena news, more than 10 fresh stories daily, 7 days a week at 7 a.m. More Cool Stuff Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez (center) was the featured panelist at the Peer Resource Center’s Peace Forum. Also pictured: (left) Ricky Pickens, Director of Prevention & Intervention Services at the Flintridge Center, and LeRoy Avington, a youth in the YMO housing program.Community youth had an opportunity to discuss concerns over violence in Pasadena with Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez during the “Speak Up! Community Peace Forum” held on February 24 at Hillsides Peer Resource Center in Pasadena.During the hour and a half panel discussion, featured panelist Chief Sanchez asked the audience for its help in fighting the recent spike in gang-related shootings in Northwest Pasadena. The Peer Resource Center is located near where some of the violence has occurred.Sanchez said that in most instances, there are witnesses to the violence, but they are reluctant to step forward. “I need to work hard to build trust with you so you feel like sharing that information with me,” he said.Another problem, said Sanchez, is that “we have a ton of guns in Pasadena.” He explained that often guns owned legally are stolen from residences and make their way out into the streets.The Peace Forum, organized by Brandon Lamar, a peer partner at the Peer Resource Center, was created as a chance for the police chief and other panelists to address the increase in violence and for youth in the audience to voice any concerns they have with the police department in order to encourage collaboration between the police and the community. The Peer Resource Center, a one-stop shop of support for youth in need, is part of Hillsides Youth Moving On (YMO) program, which offers youth formerly in foster care or probation affordable housing and other support services.During the discussion, panelists discussed why youth in Pasadena turn to crime, citing as causes the high cost of living in the city and the lack of social supports to aid youth with few resources. Chief Sanchez talked about the need for better jobs and affordable housing to give youth more opportunity.Panelist Thomas Lee, Hillsides division director of Transition-Aged Youth Services, agreed, saying that without such supports, crime issues won’t be resolved. He also said that the city needs a culture change to stop judging youth on their appearance, and that race is an issue that the city needs to address.The one youth on the panel, LeRoy Avington, who lives at YMO’s housing program, advised youth in the community to “try your best to fly straight” and avoid the pathway toward crime. When asked if the city is doing enough to address the needs of youth, Avington commented, “Pasadena is a big city. We need to get more centers like this one [the Peer Resource Center] to assist the youth.”Toward the end of the panel discussion, Chief Sanchez said there were 30 open positions in the Pasadena police department and invited audience members to apply for jobs. When he learned that Avington was interested in law enforcement, he handed Avington a business card.“The evening was a wonderful opportunity for us to hear questions and concerns from the community,” said Lamar, the event coordinator. “It was also good to hear the police chief share his concerns for the youth as far as employment, housing, and getting the youth involved in the Pasadena police department.”Hillsides, headquartered in Pasadena, is a premier provider of child welfare services in Los Angeles County dedicated to improving the overall well-being and functioning of vulnerable children, youth, and families. YMO is one of Hillsides four core programs, which also include an education center, a residential treatment program, and Family Resource Centers that offer parenting classes, mental health support, and other crucial resources in Baldwin Park, Echo Park, Pomona, Pasadena, and South Pasadena. 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