SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Police department has lunched a new program that will help teens who are interested in vocational skills related to automobile technology, engineering and related industries..
DRAGG, Drag Racing Against Gangs and Graffiti, is a program within Santa Barbara Police Activities League (SBPAL). It is a non-profit agency that has activities police officers and local youth take part in together.
Saturday the DRAGG program was launched with the unveiling of a new custom designed Chevrolet Camaro from Bunnin Chevrolet, complete with a speciallly designed black and white paint scheme and law enforcement lights, that will be used in the program.
The DRAGG garage is off campus at 926 Indio Muerto street. The program provides an after school automotive program for high school students in the Santa Barbara area.
Organizers say the goal of DRAGG is to provide a positive environment for youth to improve their self-worth by learning marketable skills in the automotive industry while preparing them for a productive life. There are many mentors from the auto industry who are joining the program.
The students involved are going to be encouraged to consider a college to improve on their vocational skills program and they will have contacts for employment.
The program promotes hard work, self-respect, and discipline.
This is a partnership with the Santa Barbara School Districts.
Sgt. Eric Beecher is the driving force behind the program. He has rallied many supporters in the community to back the plan and help at risk youth. He says when students do not have these opportunities there is a likelihood to drop out of school and join gangs.
"Even though I might have been the person behind it DRAGG was actually started in Oxnard eight years ago. I met Sergeants there I told them what I wanted to do and they said 'we have been doing it for years.' Instead of reinventing the wheel I joined these guys," said Beecher.
Along with the auto program in the shop there will be many field trips.
As part of the kick off and to rally community spirit for the program there will be a Free Benefit Concert – Sunday, March 11th at the Arlington Theatre. Raymond Michaels will be on stage performing "A Night with Elvis".
There will also be a Show and Shine car show from 1 – 5:30 pm (and the Elvis Concert begins at 3:30 pm. )