In order to combat gang violence, resist the temptation of joining criminal street gangs, and encourage youths to stay in school, the Santa Ana Police Department has formed the Santa Ana Police Athletic Activity League (SAPAAL). SAPAAL is a crime prevention program that employs educational, athletic, and recreational activities to create trust and understanding between youths and law enforcement. SAPAAL will focus its efforts on at risk students.
At risk students experience a myriad of difficulties, which impede their learning: lack of resources, lack of support, lack of language fluency, etc. At an early age, they find it difficult if not impossible to perform at grade level. Every year they continue to fall further and further behind. The lack of success leads to low self-esteem, self-worth, and the belief that no one cares. Often they are drawn to individuals who share similar ideas, values, and beliefs. To gain recognition or peer acceptance, they may engage in inappropriate or illegal behavior. These individuals are prime candidates for joining a criminal street gang.
The SAPAAL use's police officers as coaches, tutors and mentors. Police officers coaching, tutoring and mentoring demonstrate to youths that officers are truly interested in their development and well-being. The Santa Ana Police Department to implemented the SAPAAL to develop a new community resource program focused on reducing gang violence. Studies show that youths who are involved in supervised extracurricular activities are significantly less likely to participate in high-risk illegal behavior.
The Santa Ana Police Department is committed to reducing violence in the community. The SAPAAL is a pro-active long-term strategy designed not only to meet the goal of reducing street violence, but also to provide youths with the opportunity to build a successful future.