Dinuba plans gang summit
City official says Step Up program will resemble Orosi’s
Officials and residents of the north Tulare County city of Dinuba would rather not wait until gang activity gets out of hand before implementing their own version of Step Up, an anti-gang program already making inroads in other area cities and towns, including Visalia.
“Why wait?” asked Elizabeth Villalobos, 29, who was served for the past year a community relations specialist for the city of Dinuba, which hosts its first Step Up summit 5-9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, at Dinuba High School.
“Dinuba has unique needs as a community, and residents here want to design a Step Up plan specifically for Dinuba,” Villalobos said.
Dinuba’s involvement will be the latest extension of Step Up, financed in part by a $100,000 grant to the county and administered by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. A major gang summit involving Step Up was conducted on Dec. 6, 2007, in Visalia, and similar meetings and ongoing programs have since sprung up in Orosi, Woodlake, Ivanhoe and Porterville.
Villalobos said Dinuba’s approach will likely mirror Orosi’s, where individual family involvement is stressed.
Spanish-language materials and faith-based organizational involvement will be key in Dinuba’s efforts.
City officials in Dinuba are lining up behind the effort.
“Safety is our No.1 priority in Dinuba,” said Mayor Terry McKittrick in a written statement. “It drives everything we do.”
Fighting, and preventing, gang-related violence is a priority for city and county officials, McKittrick said.
Dinuba Police Chief James Olvera said that the “power to prevent and help solve violence in our community and in our schools is in our hands.”