Santa Paula Times

SPPD, community benefit: City receives $175K Weed & Seed grant

May 31, 2006
Santa Paula News

Santa Paula’s Weed & Seed program almost doubled its money with a second federal grant, according to Santa Paula Police Chief Steve MacKinnon.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesSanta Paula’s Weed & Seed program almost doubled its money with a second federal grant, according to Santa Paula Police Chief Steve MacKinnon.After extensive effort, the easterly third of Santa Paula was accepted - with great fanfare - by the U.S. Department of Justice Weed & Seed program, but the joy was short lived when it was learned that the city would not be receiving funds. In the Fall of 2005, the city finally received official site designation for a Weed & Seed program and was awarded $100,000 for the year.The latest grant has been boosted to $175,000, according to Chief MacKinnon, and the recognition of the area Weed & Seed program “will allow us to be funded for at least the next three years.”Following program guidelines will direct 50 percent of the funding to the “’Weed’ side of the grant, law enforcement efforts with funding covering overtime, police equipment and police-related services. The ‘Seed’ side is for community activities,” and includes support equipment and such programs as after-school activities for youth, counseling services, English as a second language, parenting, and youth mentoring, as well as other social services.Chief MacKinnon noted that the city received the grant funding in April, and “We’re just starting to make purchases from the grant and getting the program up and running.” Equipment to be purchased includes additional mountain bikes and “a lot of support equipment for the bikes... we have new helmets and first aid kits,” among other items.
Chief MacKinnon said that a “fair amount of funds will go directly to Citizens Patrol” to purchase new uniforms, to make the volunteer corps “more recognizable to the public,” as well as other support equipment.About $60,000 in all “will go towards overtime for the officers to interact with the community with programs such as the bike patrol,” efforts that go hand-in-hand with community policing principles.“The ‘Seed’ side will include community efforts dealing with programs for kids, parenting skills, teen mentoring, homework assistance,” and other programs, many of which will be held at Las Piedras Park. The Las Piedras Park area was targeted for initial Weed & Seed application that resulted from community surveys, as well as other outreach/input efforts.Although Weed & Seed programs will be offered at satellite locations, the “Las Piedras Park Community Policing Building will be hub of where the program is managed.” Calla Dominguez, a longtime Las Piedras Park community activist who helped lead the Weed & Seed effort and was the longtime Community Policing Building Volunteer Coordinator, is now employed by the center.“It’s been a true community effort,” to obtain and now operate the Weed & Seed program, said Chief MacKinnon. “We have about 30 community members who serve on the board, representatives of all the different social service agencies, police officers, school districts and the Boys and Girls Club.” Councilman John Procter, a longtime program booster, is the chairman of the Weed & Seed Board of Directors, added Chief MacKinnon.