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Boxer praises west Modesto neighborhood program

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer today highlighted a west Modesto program aimed at reducing neighborhood crime and touted a law she’s trying to pass that could steer more federal money to help fight gangs.

“Gangs are essentially stealing the innocence of our youth away,” she said. “That’s got to be stopped.”

Boxer toured west Modesto’s Maddux Youth Center and met with a number of Modesto and Stanislaus County leaders, including Mayor Jim Ridenour and Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson.

She held up the neighborhood’s Weed and Seed program as an example of a comprehensive approach to inhibiting crime.

The program, backed by the U.S. Justice Department, uses a two-prong approach to improving the neighborhood. It floods west Modesto with police officers who track gangs, and it sets up community activities to turn around blighted blocks.

Boxer is working with fellow California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein to pass the “Gang Abatement and Protection Act of 2007,” which would let officials from several federal agencies coordinate anti-gang efforts.

Boxer also put a spotlight on Modesto’s National Night Out activities, scheduled to take place tonight. She noted Modesto consistently holds more National Night Out block parties than any other city of a similar size.

The parties are hosted by neighborhood watch groups, and they’re meant to demonstrate that people won’t give up their communities to criminals.