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LAPD to open Hollywood education center for at-risk youths

August 11, 2011 |  4:51 pm

Lapd The Los Angeles Police Department is set to open a youth mentoring center in Hollywood with the aim of giving kids a haven in violence-prone neighborhoods around Western Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

The grand opening of the Tomorrow’s Future storefront at 5824 Santa Monica Blvd. will take place next Thursday in Hollywood. The center will provide special programs, speakers, bilingual tutors and training to neighborhood youngsters, officials said.

LAPD Capt. Beatrice Girmala said the center, funded by community donations, achieves two important objectives. It provides children with a haven from crime and gangs in an area close to their homes and schools. Symbolically, she said it,  shows that LAPD officers do more than put up crime scene tape or slap handcuffs on people.

"This way, the community sees there's much more to us than that," Girmala said.

Kids chosen for the project include immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America, many of whom speak English as their second language.

In addition to the language and cultural barriers, Girmala said, many of the youths will come from working-class backgrounds and will be "vulnerable to the lure of gangs, who attempt to intimidate and recruit children as young as 10-year-olds to pre-teens ... with the promise of better economic times and a kind of family that many do not find at home."

Girmala said there have been at least 10 gang-related killings in the neighborhoods near the center in the last two years,  as well as dozens of robberies and assaults.

The children at the center will be tutored and mentored by graduates of the Hollywood Police Activities League, retired teachers and LAPD officers.

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-- Andrew Blankstein (Twitter.com/anblanx)

Image: Map shows location of Tomorrow's Future storefront in Hollywood. Source: Google Maps

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