FOUNTAIN VALLEY : Anti-Drug and Gang Signs to Be Posted

The first red, white and blue sign urging residents to report drug and gang activity was put up Monday by city officials at the entrance to Fountain Valley Recreation and Cultural Center.

City officials gathered at Brookhurst Street and Heil Avenue and hailed the installation of the signs citywide as a move to keep the streets safe from drugs and gangs.

"This is another step to let our citizens know we mean business when it comes to their public safety," said Mayor John J. Collins. Officials said 36 of the 12-by-18-inch signs will be posted at places where youth congregate: at all public and private schools within the city, the Recreation and Cultural Center, Family Fun Center and Mile Square Regional Park.

The cost for the signs is $9 each, or a total of $324, paid for from drug asset seizure money.

"One of our concerns is to get people involved," said Karen Ackley, chairwoman of the city's Alcohol and Drug Awareness Committee, which is sponsoring the sign program along with the Police Department.

Robert Sedlak, president of the Fountain Valley School District board, agreed that the signs "send a strong anti-drug message. We want to start preventive drug education as soon as possible."

The City Council last week also adopted a resolution supporting the establishment of drug-free zones.

A drug-free zone is any specific location in the community, especially where children congregate, where residents believe drug trafficking or alcohol problems exist.

Councilwoman Laurann Cooksaid the city joins the neighboring communities of Huntington Beach and Westminster to establish drug-free zones, the idea founded by the "No To Drugs" (NODS) Foundation, a three-city alliance to promote and fund substance-free programs.

But Cook noted that Fountain Valley went a step beyond by adding "gang-free" zone to the sign.

Cook, council liaison to the Alcohol and Drug Awareness Committee, also believes the signs will be a deterrent and will send a message that drugs and gangs won't be tolerated in the city.

Police Chief Elvin Miali said that a copy of the council's drug- and gang-free zone resolution will be forwarded to the county district attorney and the U.S. attorney general.

The city is "advising them that Fountain Valley is participating in the war against drugs and encouraging prosecution to the maximum extent possible for all drug offenders violating the drug-free zones," Miali said.

The signs have a drug-crime hot line number--(714) 962-4447--and also state that confidentiality of the caller will be maintained.

It is anticipated that information given to police from the public will lead to arrests and prosecution under the state's enhanced sentencing law, which provides stiffer punishment for drug sales within 1,000 feet of school property, Miali said.

"If nothing else, it will make the drug pusher aware that our citizens will be watching for them and they will leave the area," Miali said.

Ackley said the committee will also monitor the sign program for its effectiveness and possible expansion to other areas of the city where there are gang or drug problems.

"If we have to put up more signs, we will put up more signs," she said.

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