The Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership, commonly known as GRIP, has come a long way.
Lt. Nathan Wilson of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department can confirm that.
Wilson, chief of police services for Stanton, was the first OCSD deputy to join GRIP when the program began 11 years ago with two schools in Anaheim and two in Stanton.
Wilson, along with Anaheim PD Officer Ed Arevalo, Senior Assistant District Attorney Tracy Miller, and two civilians, used a multipronged approach to keep kids from joining gangs.
On Dec. 7, Miller, Wilson, and Arevalo were among dozens of county law enforcement professionals and deputy DAs who stood in an auditorium-sized room at Ford’s regional headquarters in Irvine as 130 GRIP kids from 14 schools were rewarded with a tour of the facility, along with a few other surprises, including the unveiling of a student-designed vehicle wrap for the OC GRIP car.
To earn the opportunity, the students had to meet certain challenges, such as having no unexcused absences, criminal activity or arrests, violence or weapons on campus, and no gang-related clothing, writing, or behavior.
Ford has been hosting GRIP students and law enforcement for the past seven years and is among a vast array of organizations that partner with GRIP.
“I knew it was a good thing,” said Wilson, looking back to GRIP’s early days. “I knew it would grow. I never imagined it would be something this large, and it’s incredible to see … the buy-in from outside (organizations) that are willing to support this … like having Ford come in and do this. That’s something that is very impressive.”
Virtually every one of the 150 workers at the Ford facility volunteered to mentor a group or an individual child.
“The Ford Motor Company has closed down their facility for you, to make a difference in your life,” Anaheim Police Chief Jorge Cisneros told the students. “They are talking to you about their education, the work that they do. Hopefully you understand that with hard work, you get to accomplish things in life.”
The Orange PD works with about 30 outside organizations, having the greatest number of community partners of any GRIP program.
“Solving and dealing with gang problems can’t be just a police function or a district attorney function,” Orange PD Chief Tom Kisela said. “It takes community stakeholders. It takes the community to come together and work together to help these kids and give them the opportunity.”