The Young Council Members explore realities of local crime


Photo By Council Member Assistant Itzi Robles

Young Councilmember Program members at Fresno Police Headquarters with Council President Esmeralda Soria.

Evelyn Govern, Staff Writer

The Young Council Member Program seeks to familiarize concerned students with the issues and approaches our community makes to solve problems and create a better city. It officially began in December 2017 with an informative meeting on activities that will take place once every month on a Saturday throughout January 2018 to May 2018 to engage in activities at different departments of Fresno. This is to learn and experience the way our city functions successfully and allow students to provide input on how to improve our communities.

The fifteen members of this program—including myself along with fellow Central High School East and West Campus students, Harjot Thiara, Brian Ko, Marina Garcia, Destiny Her, Jasdeep Gill, and Vanessa Ybarra—were carefully selected by submitting their application by September 30, 2017, and after meeting requirements such as living in District 1 or attending a high school in District 1 (Fresno High School, Central High School, neighborhoods near Lions Park, Quigley Park, and Tower District), we were able to gain exposure to the way our city is managed. Students also had to include a personal statement that answered questions from Fresno Council President Esmeralda Soria, a signature of a parent or guardian, demonstrate leadership and active involvement at school or in the community, and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA. This program—supported by the Fresno City Council—allows students from eighth grade to twelfth grade to expand their knowledge and become more connected with their communities leadership personal and strategies.

The first session for the Young Council Member program started off the new year with a powerful, educational trip for participating students with the objective of introducing them to the tough issue of crime and its detrimental impact on Fresno communities.

The educational tour began at Fresno Police Headquarters and Fire Station 3 on January 20 since the objective was public safety. The members met up at Fresno City Hall at 9:00am, toured the headquarters, then finished a question and answer session before breaking for lunch along with a tour at Fire Station 3 and returning to Fresno City Hall. At the headquarters, the members were able to learn about different departments such as detective work, patrol duty, investigation, dispatching, processing evidence, and the Real Time Crime Center (RTCC). “The [computer] program [in RTCC] detects and reads the semi-accurate location of the gunshots and shows an enclosed area with a lot of echoing—the sounds bouncing off of walls and buildings,” explained Detective Bunch. “Sometimes it may not capture an exact location but it’s accurate enough for [police] officers to know where that red dot is and go right into it.”

For any student exploring the option of public leadership or government, applying for this opportunity is a must. “The [Young Council Member] Program will change your perspective on how our government actually works and will give you opportunities to experience it first hand,” encouraged Destiny Her, a sophomore at East Campus.  Marina Garcia, a sophomore at East Campus as well, joined because she could get a chance to have a voice for problems she may have in her neighborhood. She believes people should join this program if they’re interested in “building new friendships, attend tours, and learn about how the city of Fresno operates.”

“This program allows students to develop an understanding of their community, as well as how they can contribute to it,” according to Harjot Thiara, a junior at West Campus. “It’s also a great opportunity to be able to meet Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria and the other high achieving students in the program that empowers the youth of Fresno and learn about the inner workings of our great city,” added Brian Ko, a senior at East Campus. So, upcoming eighth graders through high school seniors, please keep this in mind for fall 2018.