The City of San Juan Capistrano has experienced gang involvement since the 1970’s. Believing that we cannot arrest our way out of a gang problem, a decision was made to target potential gang members and educate these students on the consequences of gang involvement.
Due to the size of the endeavor, a collaboration of school officials, law enforcement, community based organizations, and volunteers was required. The result was the implementation of the Gang Reduction and Intervention Program (GRIP). The program would be implemented at four San Juan Capistrano schools; Marco Forster Middle School, Kinoshita Elementary School, Del Obispo Elementary School and San Juan Elementary School.
In February 2008 the Capistrano Unified School District, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and City of San Juan Capistrano embarked on the collaborative development of GRIP to intervene in the growth and recruitment of criminal street gangs in San Juan Capistrano schools.
This collaborative effort grew to include the Capistrano Unified School District PTA’s, City Officials, prominent members of the community, the Boys and Girls Club of Capistrano Valley, and Big Brothers and Sisters. The San Juan Capistrano Rotary Club, Costco, and many other local groups have also supported GRIP in many ways. The collaboration specifically focused on preventing younger children from joining gangs through a simultaneous prevention and intervention approach.