Q: My neighbor’s yard looks like a dump! It’s full of trash, all sorts of debris and weeds are everywhere. Is there anything the police can do to help clean it up?

A: Unfortunately, city living may bring with it an occasional nuisance that affects your quality of life. If you are affected by a nuisance caused by an adjacent neighbor or business, you may be able to remedy the problem through diplomacy. Contact the offending party first and explain the problem. There is a possibility they aren’t aware that their living condition is having an impact on others.

If you feel a conversation between you and the offending party may become emotional, consider writing them a letter. It may also be beneficial to seek the help of neighbors who are also affected. Ask them to accompany you when you meet with the offending party, or to co-sign a letter. If applicable, work with the apartment owner and manager to come to a resolution with the offender.

During your efforts to solve a chronic nuisance, be sure to keep track of any conversations or correspondence with the offender or calls that you make to the police. This will help document the history of the problem should mediation or legal measures become necessary.

City Hall’s Code Compliance Division is also a resource anyone can use. They enforce local ordinances and state laws regulating construction activity and the maintenance of buildings and property in the interest of community health, safety and environmental quality. You can call them at (310) 458-4984. If you are still unsure of how to approach this situation, contact the neighborhood resource officer in your area for suggestions.

Q: Summer is fast approaching and I want to know if there are any City Hall-run programs that I can enroll my kids in? My kids are at that age where they need extra guidance and I am in fear that they will run wild if not involved in something.

A: Are your children interested in law enforcement? Or, are you interested in your children building on their character attributes such as a hard work ethic, discipline, respect and integrity? Would you like to do something about the problems in your community? If so, the Law Enforcement Explorer Post (LEEP) may be the right place for them. Law Enforcement Exploring is a youth oriented program, active in police agencies throughout the nation, that allows young men and women to determine if they would like to pursue a career in law enforcement as adults by offering them actual experience and training. In addition, the program provides the police department with more human resource opportunities, and opens a very important avenue for understanding today’s youth. Your child must be between the ages of 14 and 19 years old, and meet the minimum requirements.

The application process consists of a written history, oral interview with the parents or guardian, and a complete background check. Candidates will also be evaluated on their maturity, genuine interest in crime and the law, and ability to effectively assist the Santa Monica Police Department.

After acceptance into the program, initial training takes place at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Explorer Academy. Your child is then required to successfully complete the academy in order to become a member of the Explorer Post. The academy consists of 20 consecutive Saturdays and includes over 180 hours of instruction, which includes topics such as: demeanor, firearms safety, narcotics control, police procedures, first aid, criminal law, and community relations. Trainees are also required to participate in close-order drills and physical training in addition to their classroom work.

Once the academy has been successfully completed, Explorers assist sworn police officers by performing non-hazardous duties such as assisting in crime reduction campaigns, evidence searches, disaster assistance, community relations activities, and civic events.

To find out more about this program, you may contact Detective Ahn, who is the advisor of the Explorer Program, at (310) 458-8452.

If that seems too involved, we also have the Police Activities League, or PAL. PAL is home to many programs and has been a cornerstone for youth to enrich their lives through extracurricular activities in the city of Santa Monica. PAL serves as a positive and constructive environment for youth to learn through socialization and participation in many diverse activities. PAL is not only supported by the Santa Monica Police Department, but has helped to foster and guide some of our very own police officers throughout their younger years.

PAL is a unique community organization that fosters trust between youth and the men and women of the Santa Monica Police Department in a safe and nurturing environment. Through outstanding educational, cultural, recreational, and outreach programs, PAL helps develop skills and self-esteem, encouraging youth to reach their full potential.

The PAL Youth Center is a drop-in recreation facility and has many activities for youth, including tutoring, martial arts, sports and outings to the Santa Monica Pier, sporting events, and white water rafting, just to name a few.

Enrichment classes and activities are open to PAL members, who are ages 6 to 17 and are Santa Monica residents or go to school in Santa Monica. Classes are limited in size; sign-ups are taken on first come, first serve basis beginning Monday, June 14. All PAL activities are free. Sign-ups for PAL are accepted in the PAL Youth Office, 1401 Olympic Blvd. For more information, call (310) 458-8988, or view the link at www.santamonicapd.org.

This column was prepared by NRO Robert Lucio (Beat 6: Montana Avenue to Interstate 10, 20th Street to Centinela Avenue). He can be reached at (424) 200-0686, or via e-mail at roberto.lucio@smgov.net.

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