Representatives of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and the Los Angeles County Fire Department sat down on Saturday to listen to suggestions and appreciation from the community’s youth at the annual Human Ummah Foundation event.
The Human Ummah Foundation is a local nonprofit that aims to bridge SCV’s Muslim community with other communities, foundations and organizations.
Members of HUF gathered in the SCV Sheriff’s Station community room to hear 11 of their own youth members share their presentations on the public safety roles of the city, the Sheriff’s Department and the Fire Department.
“I am just delighted to be here and like I said, I hope that this becomes an annual event, and we recognize our youth for all the hard work that you do,” said Gloria Mercado-Fortine, president of the SCV Sheriff’s Foundation.
The presentations aimed toward offering suggestions, areas in need of awareness and solutions for first responders in the next five to 10 years.
“Peace is what the police department and most people would like to keep,” said presenter Ali Jaber.
The youth presenters’ suggestions included: recruiting from a diverse pool of applicants; providing training on cultural sensitivity; law enforcement agencies working with joint community initiatives, such as neighborhood watch programs, crime prevention efforts and community service projects; and providing training and education for officers on topics such as de-escalation techniques, cultural awareness and community relations.
Some of the presenters expressed the importance of having an event like this where the youth can have a say and learn about working toward a safer future.
“We want to provide guidance to our youth and make sure that they’re our upcoming leaders,” said presenter Sam Haq. “We want to make sure that they’re on the right path, and they can contribute back to society as well. We want to create a safe environment.”
One of the presenters is a freshman at Valencia High School and had to go to school the day of the recent stabbing incident, in which one student stabbed another with a knife in a fight.
Yusuf Farhad lived in fear walking around the Valencia campus with thoughts flooding his head.
“I couldn’t go throughout the day without it stuck in my head,” said Farhad. “Constantly I’ll be thinking that maybe eventually another attack would happen and maybe a teacher would get attacked or someone else or maybe one of my closest friends or, God forbid, maybe me. I’ll probably be the next victim.”
Farhad expressed his gratitude for the Sheriff’s Station’s response and felt they handled the situation to the best of their capabilities.
Seeing their actions and the justice system that the student suspect is facing made him feel once again safe on campus.
Each presenter was awarded a certificate from the city of Santa Clarita, the SCV Sheriff’s Station and the L.A. County Fire Department by Capt. Justin Diez and Chief Eric Suarez.
“This is what happens when the city officials, state officials, county officials and the citizens get together, is that we get to put a face to the name and we become friends,” said HUF member Jamshed Yazdani. “This is the ultimate goal that we were all striving for, to have a friendship in the community.”
“It is,” said Diez.