Police Put Kids On Wheels To Keep Them Out Of Gangs

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, March 1, 2007

Officer Micah Krantz coaches a group of high school and middle school students, as they practice for their first mountain bike race coming up this weekend.
The students are from Luther Burbank High School and Goethe Middle School.  Both are located in South Sacramento where six gang shootings occurred over the weekend. 
Police officer George Martinez started the bike clubs last fall:
I want to get these kids in, so I can get them away from gangs, get them to make better choices, so that later on in life, they’re not part of the problem out here.
So far, there’s only about 12 students in each club, but Coach Craig Rieser from Luther Burbank says word will spread:
Someone once said that gang members are just bad boy scouts.  They’re just boys looking for a group to belong to, and activities to do.
Sixteen year old Anthony Short says he knows what he’d be doing, if he wasn’t in the club:
Probably roaming the streets or something…just like walking around, having nothing to do.
Other schools in the Sacramento region have bike clubs, but these are the only two in the city.
Mayor Heather Fargo, who showed up yesterday afternoon to help officers publicize the clubs, says not enough people know about activities for teens:
They’re programs offered at different Boys and Girls Clubs, in YMCA’s, at schools, by the city, but not all the students know what’s available, and I think it’s harder for them when it’s in so many different locations, to really figure out what’s available and what they’re interested in.
Fargo says one of the duties of the city’s newly created Youth Czar will be to gather such information in a central place where it is easily accessible to young people.