WHITTIER : Community Center to Help Counter Crime

The Police Department will open a community center in January to expand youth programs and Neighborhood Watch groups.

The facility will be part of an effort by police and other city officials to improve conditions in a blighted, crime-prone 20-block area with many apartments and absentee owners. The area is bounded by Pickering and Greenleaf avenues and La Cuarta and Philadelphia streets.

The center at Greenleaf Avenue and Whittier Boulevard will be staffed about 20 hours a week. A police officer and workers from three other city departments will share the duties, officials said.

Staffers will work with youth organizations to develop local sports programs and movie nights and will help increase Neighborhood Watch groups from nine to about 20 in the area. They also will offer residents brochures and advice about crime prevention, home repair and recreation.

The effort to improve the blighted area began last November.

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