Citizen Action Network
In the Fall of 1994, the Gilbert Town Council established a citizens task force to study the issue of gangs in the community. Several town employees acted as facilitators to the task force which formed into three sub-committees: Neighborhood Involvement/Youth Intervention, Family-Parent Involvement/Education, and Criminal Justice. Each sub-committee was involved in researching successful programs in other communities with the ultimate goal of developing programs for youth in the Gilbert community and to aid the police department in any way they could. A full recommendation was made to the Council in 1995, and at that time the Council established the Gilbert Citizen Action Network (CAN) for Youth and Family. An overall chairman was appointed, and an advisory board was created representing local and regional leadership. A steering committee comprised of sub-committee chairmen, members of the Gilbert Police Department, and interested citizens was established. Programs that have been developed are:
ASAP (After School Assistance Program) which provides for social, recreational and craft opportunities for children after school at their neighborhood playground or school. This program is supervised by members of the Gilbert Parks and Recreation Department with a recreational leader in charge of activities, assisted by parent volunteers. Initially established in an elementary school as a pilot program, it may soon be extended to junior high schools.
Teen Scenes which are professionally written plays produced by student actors and performed at junior and senior high schools, churches and Boys & Girls Clubs, and filmed and broadcast live over the local cable channel. A discussion group led by a professional counselor from the police department follows each play. Plays focus on current youth problems -- suicide, pregnancy, drugs, etc.
Youth Offender Program in which, in cooperation with the county court, a small group of Gilbert citizens sits before first-time youthful offenders who have been arrested to determine a satisfactory way to provide not only punishment but look at possible causes and at what assistance might be provided to youth in trouble. The citizen advisors let the young people know they are neighbors who care about what happens to them. Parents are invited to attend.
Juvenile Court is a program currently under development by the criminal justice committee, the police department and the municipal court. Under the juvenile court program, youth offenders who commit minor offenses, such as curfew and alcohol violations, will be judged by their peers and assigned proper punishment.
Contact: Office of the Mayor, (602) 545-6860
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1996, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.