Teaching kids about respect

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has developed a mobile teaching station in an effort to educate children on the consequences of hate and intolerance.

Chief Neal Tyler of the sheriff's field operations region one, originally conceived the program.

“Chief Tyler came up with this idea to reduce hate crimes in the [region one] area,” said Sgt. Ray Harley of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station, which serves La Cañada Flintridge.

According to Harley, Region One, which includes Palmdale, Lancaster, Altadena and Crescenta Valley, has the highest reported incidents of hate crimes in L.A. County.

“There was a 28% rise in [hate crimes] in 2007,” he said.

The highest number recorded in the last five years.

Tyler asked Lt. Mike Bornman, who was then stationed at Crescenta Valley, to take his original idea and create a program. Bornman enlisted Harley to join in the effort and for two years they worked on the project. The result was the Stop Hate And Respect Everyone (SHARE) tolerance program.

“We worked with experts like those from the Museum of Tolerance,” Harley said. “And we worked with Los Angeles Unified School District's Second Step violence prevention program.”

The program went through a few designs including at one point the creation of a North County Museum of Tolerance that would be in Palmdale but that idea was rejected for a more mobile program. The program provides opportunities for students to participate in field trips that promote education and tolerance. In addition the program will include a strong community outreach presences with sheriff's station lobby displays, bumper stickers and pamphlets. Another outreach section of the program is a trailer that was designed that would work as a mobile classroom and movie theater. The department produced a video that explained the repercussions of hate crimes and intolerance.

“We had victims [of hate crimes] interviewed,” Harley said.

The video also includes scenarios designed to show not only what happens when a hate crime is committed but also the fallout to families, friends and victims.

The department is still fine-tuning the program, Harley said.

The trailer will travel to schools throughout Palmdale for the first year, while Bornman, Harley and others will continue to perfect the program. Eventually the mobile unit will visit all schools in Region One including Crescenta Valley.

“But that will be awhile,” Harley warns. “Right now it is in a trial phase.”

The program is designed for kids 13-18 years old because those statistically are the ages most likely to commit these types of crimes.

“We are hoping through this video [and program] we will get the kids' attention and get them talking. Through discussions we will find solutions,” he said.

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