SACRAMENTO–The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region Executive Director–Vicken Sonentz-Papazian Tuesday testified before the California State Senate Committee on Public Safety in support of AB 1457–the Multilingual Outreach Program which would allocate funds for the Glendale Police Department to extend its outreach into the local Armenian American community.
Author of the legislation– California State Assemblyman Scott Wildman who represents the Glendale–Los Angeles and Burbank area–introduced AB 1457 in response to requests from local law enforcement agencies who have reported an increase of organized criminal activity targeting Armenian immigran’s and Armenian owned businesses.
In support of the measure–Assemblyman Wildman remarked–"This bill will provide a very useful and effective tool for local police to identify and arrest criminals who prey on the most vulnerable members of their own community. This program will definitely help restore the community’s confidence in both law enforcement and government in general."
AB 1457 enables the Glendale Police Department to develop and direct a program which–in addition to establishing a toll free "hotline" staffed full time by both Armenian and English speaking operators–includes an educational component to increase public awareness of services provided by local law enforcement and to encourage victims of extortion and other crimes to seek assistance–coordination of organized crime fighting efforts with the police departmen’s of Fresno and Los Angeles and enhanced witness protection measures.
The Senate Public Safety Committee–whose members include several staunch supporters of Armenian issues–including Senators Adam Schiff and Richard Polanco–also heard testimony in support of AB 1457 from Chahe Keuroghlian–Public Information Officer from the Glendale Police Department.
The legislation–co-sponsored by a host of Assembly Members including Howard Kaloogian of Carlsbad–will be heard in the State Senate Appropriations Committee later this summer before it is considered for final approval.