It seems the Phoenix Police are being give
lots of money and they are spending it on
wasteful activities like having parties and
unconstitutional activities like Bible Camps
- $9,920 spend on quinceamera party, which is a Mexican version of a sweet 15 party.
- $8,895 spent on unconstitutional Youth Bible Camp
- $2,685 spent on movie party nights
Quinceanera, movie nights among Phoenix grant requests
by Connie Cone Sexton - Aug. 8, 2012 10:42 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com
Patrolling streets with flashlights, installing security cameras and publishing newsletters with neighborhood alerts are traditional approaches to fighting crime.
But Phoenix Block Watch funding also is fulfilling unusual requests that some say can be just as effective.
A quinceamera: In 2011, La Familia Neighborhood Association in south-central Phoenix requested and received $9,920 for its "Alcohol-Free Quinceanera." The grant paid for 22 girls and boys ages 12 to 18 to take self-awareness classes, learn about alcohol prevention and clean up the neighborhood for the community quinceanera, a coming-of-age ceremony for 15-year-old Hispanic girls. The grant paid for an event coordinator and instructors in dance, music and sewing; and for a sound system, fabric and sewing supplies.
Youth Bible camp: In 2011, Faith Missionary Baptist Church requested and received $8,895. About $1,900 went to the church for a Bible camp and Community Outreach Day of Celebration. The Block Watch grant also paid for classes on character building, cultural awareness, the criminal-justice system and reducing gang activity.
Movie nights: In 2010, the Canyon Corridor Community Coalition in central Phoenix requested and received $2,685. Most of that paid for a license to put on six multilingual movie events to improve social bonds among neighbors.
Phoenix Block Watch allocations draw questions
Sounds this thing has turned into a jobs program for cops!!!! The cops are being paid $60 an hour to more or less hold pep rallies for children.
"Phoenix police officers serve as class leaders -- some making $60 or more an hour -- working with children on community-improvement projects or homework"
Phoenix Block Watch allocations draw questions
Youth programs get portion of crime-prevention money
by Connie Cone Sexton - Aug. 8, 2012 11:01 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com
Since 2008, more than $1.5 million of taxpayer money for Phoenix neighborhood crime prevention that could have been awarded to traditional Block Watch programs was given to programs designed to steer youths from crime, even though some question whether the latter is effective.
An Arizona Republic analysis of the past five years of Phoenix Neighborhood Block Watch grant awards found that more than one in five grants benefited youth programs, including Wake Up Clubs, sports or academic programs.
• Quinceañera, movie nights among funding requests
The money was used to take children to Lake Pleasant, the Arizona Science Center, Kartchner Caverns and other destinations as a reward for participating in a Phoenix police-led after-school program and for completing community-service projects.
Meanwhile, at least 15 traditional Block Watch grant applicants initially received no funding this year from the annual pool of $1.2 million, despite requests for items such as security lighting and cameras to catch graffiti vandals. However, at least three of those groups were later granted at least partial funding on appeal. The Phoenix City Council is expected to vote on final allocations in the next few weeks.
Crime-prevention specialists, while acknowledging the benefits of teaching children values like respect for police officers and community service, question whether the emphasis -- to deter children from a life of crime -- is effective.
Voters created the Phoenix Neighborhood Block Watch Grant Program with Proposition 301, a sales-tax increase passed in 1993. Today, those who oversee it are divided over the best way to fight crime. For some, it's getting neighbors to monitor their streets, installing security lighting or Block Watch signs, using walkie-talkies for neighborhood patrols and holding community events to promote crime prevention. For others, it means continuing to invest in programs for youth.
Since 2008, more than $36,000 paid for youth sports at Granada East School in central Phoenix. In May, the City Council approved $7,600 for 2012-13 to pay coaches, referees, league fees and transportation for boys and girls to participate in basketball, soccer, baseball and softball.
In 2011, the Wilson Coalition neighborhood in southeast Phoenix received $9,800 to pay for after-school playground, library and gym supervisors for students at Wilson Elementary School.
Phoenix officials said there is anecdotal evidence that youth programs curb crime but could not provide research to back that up. Some members of the city Block Watch Oversight Committee question the investment.
"They sound like good programs, but do they really prevent crime? An argument can be made that it's not," said John Schroeder, a member of the City Council-appointed Block Watch Oversight Committee, which reviews grant applications and makes recommendations.
Every year, neighborhood groups in Phoenix may apply for up to $10,000 for a crime-prevention project. The Phoenix Police Department, which administers the Block Watch program, presents the committee's recommendations to the City Council. The newest round of grants were approved in May without discussion.
For the fiscal year that began July 1, about $224,000 has been designated for 24 Wake Up Clubs. That's 18.6 percent of total funding.
Of the 211 applications, 25 groups were initially unfunded. Among the rejections: Tatum Park Neighborhood Block Watch in northeast Phoenix, which requested $6,100 for projects that included solar lights for security; and Discovery at Villa de Paz in southwest Phoenix, which sought $9,800 for a flashlight camera to catch vandals.
Most of the youth money has supported about two dozen Wake Up Clubs.
The programs are held one hour a week after school and for about five weeks during the summer. Phoenix police officers serve as class leaders -- some making $60 or more an hour -- working with children on community-improvement projects or homework.
During the past four years, each club was given $3,000 to $5,000 to pay for police officers to operate an individual program. Another $3,000 to $5,000 was awarded to fund admission and transportation costs to various attractions or to travel to community-service projects. The field trips, sometimes done in summer, are for children who participate in Wake Up Club meetings during the school year.
Phoenix police Officer Robin Ontiveros, who oversees the Wake Up Clubs, said she has seen the difference they make in the lives of children. "It's very effective because it's run by the Police Department. It's like a mentoring program."
Wake Up Clubs were started in 1995 by the department's Community Effort to Abate Street Crime, after a drive-by shooting of a 4-year-old in south Phoenix spurred residents to ask for help.
Critics say funding for Wake Up Clubs may benefit the community in the long run but hurt groups seeking money for crime-fighting programs. Schroeder questions the money going to youth programs and wants to see research and statistics on their impact.
The first year northeast Phoenix resident Jerry Cline was on the Block Watch Oversight Committee, he noticed all Wake Up Club applications were identical, seeking the same amounts of money to take kids to the same places. By the second year, he started asking questions. This year, he said there were a lot of "conversations" about whether the clubs should continue to be funded through Block Watch.
"When you get close to running out of money, you start thinking whether you should use the money to fund other projects," Cline said.
This year, for the first time since 2010, most Wake Up Club requests were not fully funded. Still, the oversight committee didn't make drastic cuts, except in the case of one school, Simpson Elementary, which last year sent kids on 30 field trips with Block Watch funds.
For fiscal 2012-13, Simpson's Wake Up Club was given $6,198 of their $10,000 request. Most clubs saw their $8,900 to $10,000 requests trimmed by only $100 or $200.
'Faith' and fairness
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said he believes children's programs "pay long-term dividends" and said he takes the oversight committee's recommendations on "faith" that it knows what's best for the community.
Judy Welch, captain of the Villa de Paz Block Watch, near Camelback Road and 102nd Avenue, disagrees. She said her group's request for a flashlight camera to catch graffiti violators was denied. She doesn't think it's right that funding instead went to Wake Up Clubs.
"What do they have to do with crime prevention?" she asked. "Block Watch money is about graffiti and vandalism. ... You'd have to have a lot of research into following these kids for years to find out if it helped."
Abby Dunton, coordinator for the Farmington Park Block Watch near 91st Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road, said her group was denied $10,000 for an audio, solar-powered, bilingual flashing-beacon system to help pedestrians at a busy crosswalk. During an appeal to the oversight committee last week, her project was approved.
For Cline, of the oversight committee, the question about Wake Up Clubs remains, "How does it deter crime?"
Crime prevention takes many forms, including Wake Up Clubs, said Phoenix police Officer Deb Iodice, the Block Watch Program coordinator. Officers talk to the kids about things like bullying and drugs.
"You can see the wheels in their head turning," Iodice said.
Iodice acknowledges that the city can't quantify how many crimes are prevented this way. "There's no great way to track it. I think that's a disservice, but we're here to educate people," Iodice said.
She understands the criticism of using crime-prevention money for an after-school program. "Sometimes the program kind of gets a negative vibe because it costs a lot of money, but I think it's a fantastic program," Iodice said.
Daniel Morales, a prevention coordinator at Touchstone Behavioral Health, a non-profit organization that works to help young people lead productive lives, said getting kids to feel better about themselves can help keep them from underage drinking, drug use and getting into trouble.
Miguel "Mickey" Villarreal, 14, said he took his Wake Up Club experience in middle school seriously. "It helped me open up and be more accepting of others. And they teach you the consequences of drugs and getting into trouble. I've seen my older brother grow up and make the wrong decisions."
Villarreal, now a freshman at Trevor Browne High School in west Phoenix, returned this summer to volunteer with a Wake Up Club.
Republic reporters Ofelia Madrid, Matt Dempsey and Samantha Bush contributed to this article.