EPIC, the Early Prevention and Intervention Commission, which was an initiative to curb gang violence in Santa Ana through preventative measures, is an effort that’s been on hold for the past two years due to the city’s budget issues. EPIC has recently come under fire as a failure by the New Santa Ana blog. However, crime statistics for gang violence, while still high in Santa Ana, do show a slight reduction due to the hard work of the city’s Faith-based communities, the Santa Ana Police and the CHP.
Art Pedroza wrote that EPIC was a failure on his New Santa Ana blog: “As for the gang problem, it is still there, like it has been for generations, but today it is somewhat worse because of the ongoing drug war. Did EPIC do anything to stop the gang problem? No. It failed in its only mission. All we can do now is look back at Santa Ana’s biggest EPIC fail and shake our heads in wonderment and dismay at how much time and money one man’s ego can waste.”
Stats show a slight drop in gang violence in 2010 from 2009.
Councilwoman Michelle Martinez listed the creation and development of EPIC as an accomplishment of hers on her blog that was used as a campaign website and is used for ongoing communication with voters.
“As for EPIC, I don’t consider it a failure.” said Councilwoman Michelle Martinez. “It was the first time in Santa Ana, we established a commission to address this complex issue and not just pretend that gangs did not exisit in Santa Ana. This Commission was never intended to solve all the issues of gang violence. It was intended to bring the issue to surface and bring all stake holders to the table.”
She added, “Due to the political climate at the time, I did not have the majority of support from council after the intial appoval. The attention on gang issues was at high alert and postive programing and the faith-base community came to the table. I have worked with Pastor Kevin Brown, Pastor Mark Whitlock and others all these years to bring awareness and training and support for prevention efforts. When it is all said and done, the leadership starts from the top and it takes fortitude to take this issue head on with the community and every effort was made regadless of the politics. So, in my eyes it was not a failure just many lessons learned.”
Martinez said its was a goal to combine the EPIC commission and the Human Relations commission; both are currently inactive because of budget constraints and there are no plans to re-activate either commission untilÂ they are funded.
“We are still working on hot spots areas and also the Santa Ana Police Activities League is doing well under the direction of Officer Thomas Serafin,” said Martinez. “The City continues to work with the faith-base community and other non-profits regarding prevention and intervention strategies to curb gang violence and crime in our City.”
High crime rates and poor school scores contribue to low property values in Santa Ana. Southern California (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernadino Counties) are home to about one-forth of all gang members in the US. But Santa Ana’s percentage of gnag related violence is higher than other cities throughout the county. The work begun by EPIC is showing some progress, but more needs to be done.