An EPIC Failure or Success?

Photo Courtesy of OC Register

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 until 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.

  2 comments for “An EPIC Failure or Success?

  1. art lomeli
    February 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    “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.”

    This comment is inaccurately directly at Alfredo Amezcua as an effort to attack and cause damage to a provable Alfredo future Mayoral challenge.

    Epic was set up through a Michele Martinez effort, organized and managed by the city. Not by Alfredo.

    The initial objective to base EPIC’s work was an assessment of Santa Ana’s gang problem. The Sociology dept of Cal State Fullerton were hired to do the assesment. This was required as the first step in order to then form a plan to deal with the assesment findings as to why there is a gang problem in Santa Ana.

    The assesment was on its way to state the underlying reason for the gang problem to be a lack of economic opportunity to the poor residents of the city. The assessment was taking shape to place responsibility on the city government’s lack of educational, economic and civic opportunities to all it’s residents in particular the the large poor population of the city.

    The EPIC group was dismantled before the study…. assessment was finished as this would be critical of the city at that level. EPIC was working on being self funded, not dependent on city funding. The reason cited by Pedroza of dissolution due to lack of funding is not accurate.

    The assesment committee was organized and managed by the Santa Ana Police Department. I was a member of that committee.

    • February 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm

      The difference here, Dr. Lomeli, is you can comment freely about this issue without worrying about your comment being censored, edited or deleted.

      The fact that Ms. Martinez contradicts Mr. Pedroza makes me laugh.

      Of course, Mr. Pedroza hasn’t bothered to mention his conflict of interest here.

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