Residents in a North Perris neighborhood noticed suspicious activity at their local park but were afraid to call police for help.
Many of those residents are immigrants to the U.S. and some were uncomfortable at the prospect of speaking directly to law enforcement.
Enter TODEC, the Perris-based agency that provides education, employment, civics and citizenship classes to immigrants.
Concerned residents contacted TODEC, which in turn got hold of Perris Police Chief Mike, who dispatched a trio of officers to the park and moved swiftly to end suspected drug and gang activity.
For their efforts, Police Sgt. Kenneth Zunker and Officers Oscar Ortiz and Lee Radford were honored with “La Diferencia Awards” for improving the quality of life for affected City residents. The officers were honored Sunday, Sept. 27, during the City’s annual multicultural festival.
Luz Gallegos, director of the immigrant services at TODEC, praised the police department for its prompt response and resolution of the problem.
“We’re grateful for the officers’ commitment to solving this problem,” Gallegos said. “It makes for a better neighborhood, a better community and a better City.”
Perris Mayor Daryl Busch voiced similar sentiments.
“It is very nice to see our police department honored for doing their job, how happy they were to do it and how happy the community was to see them do it,” Busch said. “That’s what sets our department heads above many others. Everybody works together and that makes a great community.”
Zunker said he and his fellow cops were happy to earn accolades from a community with significant numbers of immigrants.
“Thank you very much,” he said. “We appreciate it. We’re here for you. If you have problems, we’re here to help you get rid of them.”
Perris Police Chief Mike Judge said cooperation with citizens groups is vital to successful law enforcement.
“We are honored to work with community groups such as TODEC that share a never-ending commitment to our community members,” Judge said. “The Perris Police Department and TODEC are united and equal components to ensure a safe and healthy environment for the community. We are excited about the future of our Perris community and dedicated to working with each community member. “