When Mike Hestrin, Riverside County’s new district attorney was sworn in yesterday, I expected the typical remarks and language like “following the rule of law” and “leading the fight for justice.” As the head prosecutor, I expected to hear him talk about “justice in the courts” and working with the county’s law enforcement community. And as the chief law officer, I thought he might mention the department’s role in fighting for the victims of crime, and he did.
But near the end of his inaugural statement our new district attorney surprised me.
“Crime prevention must be a part of our core mission,” Hestrin said to the hundreds of attendees assembled in front of Riverside’s historic courthouse to witness the 15th district attorney take the oath of office “…And we need to be innovative in our approach,” he continued as he announced his first initiative, a crime prevention foundation that is a public/private partnership. This foundation will fund important after-school programs and teen court and offer at-risk youth alternatives to gangs and crime.
Hestrin has already engaged The Community Foundation in the effort, and as a new member of that board I am confident this concept can be impactful in deterring and preventing crime.
After the swearing-in I had a chance to chat with Celia Cudiamat and Jose Marquez, both Community Foundation staff members, as we joined the other attendees at the event’s reception. Like me, Jose was excited to hear that crime prevention is a priority for this administration, especially tackling the gang problem, which Hestrin attributes to the county’s homicide rates and human trafficking activity.
According to the Riverside County Gang Task Force, the county has almost 400 gangs and over 10,000 gang members. By investing in crime prevention there will be fewer criminals to prosecute, fewer victims to protect, and safer streets and communities for everyone to enjoy.
Now that really is leading the fight against crime.