In 1992, a 19 year-old gang member was killed on the streets of San Pablo. Out of anguish from the inability to respond to cries for help from the deceased victim's mother, the Police In Schools to Offer Life (P.I.S.T.O.L.) Program was initiated by Officer Humberto Alvarez. Born in Mexico and raised locally, Alvarez started the program part-time after his regular duty hours, hoping to prevent future tragedies. By August 1997 the position of School Resource Officer became a full time position in San Pablo. His primary responsibility was working within the schools as a means of intervention and prevention on issues relating to firearms,drugs and gangs.
In 2009, the San Pablo City Council expanded the P.I.S.T.O.L. Program from one officer to a team of four people in order to better fight against juvenile delinquency and violence by working closely with youth. The unit was renamed as the Youth & Education Services (Y.E.S.) Unit. The unit includes School Resource Officers Ken White and Katie Casalnuovo, and PST Andrea Barte. They are supervised by Sergeant Jose Barajas.
The Y.E.S. Unit provides part-time services to our elementary schools and a full-time officer at our middle school. The unit provides classes to all children in San Pablo schools; grades three through seventh. Topics include the proper use of 911, 'Good Touch, Bad Touch'. bullying, drug and gang prevention, goal setting and life skills and leadership. This provides San Pablo children multiple years of positive police contact and the knowledge necessary to avoid drugs and gangs.
In 2010, the unit introduced the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program to San Pablo 6th graders. G.R.E.A.T. is a series of 13 lessons designed to teach life skills and is taught in over 1400 communities worldwide. The program is a school-based law enforcement officer-instructed classroom program that encourages student participation. In order to graduate the program students complete a community project. For more information on the G.R.E.A.T. Program visit www.great-online.org.
At the end of each school year, the top students from the G.R.E.A.T. program are recognized at the Annual Community Awards Dinner. The purpose of the event is to bring our community closer, create stronger police/community understanding and recognize positive efforts of our youth.
In addition to these services, the Y.E.S. Unit offers a variety of programs including Neighborhood Watch, National Night Out, Parent Project, the G.R.E.A.T. Summer Program and disaster preparedness training (CERT).
Sgt. Jose Barajas