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VIDEO: GRIP Takes to the Streets

Volunteers who greet students at school now catch them while still in their neighborhoods, waiting for the bus.

The program that tries to identify and help young students at risk of joining gangs is taking to the streets.

The , or GRIP, has had a "greeter program" for a few years, signing up parents and other volunteers simply to offer a friendly face as students come to campus in the morning.

But two weeks ago, the greeter program expanded to include the four bus stops in Las Villas where children wait for transportation to . 

, the San Juan Capistrano school resources officer with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, said he's been planning the new program since Thanksgiving.

That's because students – and even their parents – would fight over getting in line first to board the bus, Abe said.

Sometimes, parents would even leave a paper bag full of paper on the corner the night before to preserve a space, said Jose Luis Pedraza, assistant principal at Kinoshita.

In addition, the kids would often run around not far off from busy traffic, Abe said.

Finally, sometimes other students who didn't have a bus pass would try to sneak on the bus, he said. 

"We didn't know what to do. I couldn't come out every day," Pedraza said.

So the idea was born to take the greeter concept out into the neighborhood.

Tweny parents volunteered to work the bus routes, and Abe and other law enforcement officials are already calling it a success.

"Overall, we're extremely grateful," Pedraza said.

Steve Behmerwohld February 13, 2012 at 03:06 PM
GRIP works. I know there may be some naysayers, and it's difficult to prove a negative, (that crimes and graffiti are down because of things like the Greeter, Reader and Mentor Programs), but if you get out and participate in these programs, you can see the difference in the kids themsevles.
sjcnative1 February 15, 2012 at 06:04 AM
Let me make sure I am understanding this. We are paying an Orange County Sheriffs Deputy to make sure there are smiling to greet the kids when they get off the bus? I would rather have the Deputies on the beat as they have been doing in this country since the 1800's and it seems to have worked ok. This deputies time could be used much better
Penny Arévalo (Editor) February 15, 2012 at 05:41 PM
The deputies set up the program, but it's the parents/volunteers who consistently there are the bus stops providing the smiles.
V. Duvall February 23, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Guess you didn't read the article through. It said the parents volunteered to do this. FYI Deputy is San Juan Capistrano's school resource officer. He is doing his job by thinking up innovative things like this.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) February 23, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Even better when you watch the video. ;-)

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