Pomona, Ca., where a 16-year-old boy randomly killed a California Highway Patrol officer last year to impress the group he wanted to join, will spend $100,000 for a long-term gang-prevention program, says the Los Angeles Times. The program will train city employees and community leaders, as well as commission a report to draw up prevention strategies and identify funding sources for future programs. Valentino Mitchell Arenas Jr. pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in December, admitting that he killed officer Thomas Steiner in an attempt to join the 12th Street gang, one of the area’s largest and most ruthless. A judge will decide March 10 whether to sentence Arenas to 50 years to life in prison or life without parole.
The city may create a database to track the progress of youths receiving public services. If approved, the database would follow a case-management model and may contain information such as a young person’s academic standing, family history and criminal record. The data could be accessed by school employees, law enforcement officers and health professionals. “We don’t know what somebody’s problem is until we’ve clearly identified what’s going on in that person’s house, what’s going on in that person’s school. That’s what this will accomplish,” said one city council member. Pomona, a city of 160,000 about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, has a history of gang problems that have included violent initiation rituals and fierce turf wars.