Members of a statewide anti-crime organization made up of over 400 police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and crime survivors visited the Capitol Wednesday to urge legislators and administration officials to protect state-funded programs scientifically proven to steer children away from crime.
Signal Hill Chief of Police Michael Langston and other members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California participated in individual meetings with 15 key policymakers and administration officials.
“It is interesting in that this organization is composed of police chiefs, sheriffs and district attorneys who have come to the realization that we in law enforcement cannot arrest our way out of the crime problems facing our communities,” Langston said. “This is even more apparent here in California with the prison realignment issue. Oftentimes, police are viewed as being one dimensional when it comes to arrests being the only solution to crime. This group understands that we need to be more proactive. By supporting and investing in childhood education, early education programs like pre-school to programs that keep kids in school until graduation, we are working to fight crime. Kids that are truant from school and who don’t graduate are far more likely to be involved in delinquent acts and ultimately incarcerated. It was nice to meet with our legislatures and discuss this important issue.”
“It is an honor to have so many dedicated law-enforcement officials with us today because they understand that we must implement proactive and effective strategies today to prevent crime from happening tomorrow,” said Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California State Director Barrie Becker. “Getting kids prepared for school and keeping them in that classroom and on track to graduate are two of the most effective ways to keep our streets and communities safe.”
Representing law-enforcement leaders across the state, members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California called on both Republican and Democratic legislators to protect state funding for programs proven to keep kids away from crime. Such initiatives include high-quality early education, such as transitional kindergarten and state-funded preschool, as well as dropout-prevention strategies that work to reduce truancy and out-of-school suspensions.
Research shows that kids who receive high-quality early education and care are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to ever become involved in crime. However, Governor Brown’s proposed 2012-2013 budget would cut preschool spending by $180 million by eliminating 17,000 slots for low-income 3- and 4-year-olds and reducing per-student funding, after $70 million and 17,000 slots were already cut in 2011. It also would repeal the requirement that schools provide transitional kindergarten programs to older 4-year-olds who miss the cut-off for kindergarten starting in 2012-2013, which could deny schools up to $700 million in annual funding and deny 125,000 children the right to transitional kindergarten each year.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California members also urged lawmakers to support a series of bills on school discipline strategies; they specifically encouraged support for SB 1235, a bill authored by Sen. Darrell Steinberg and co-sponsored by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California, that would require schools with excessive levels of student suspensions to adopt school-wide, evidence-based discipline strategies to reduce the use of suspensions and improve academic achievement and attendance.