Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 14, 2014

Around town

PROPS FOR PARTNERSHIPS ... A group of local organizations — the Downtown Streets Team, Palo Alto Business and Professional Association, Palo Alto Parking Committee and the Palo Alto Police Department — received a $15,000 pat on the back this week for their collaborative efforts to improve safety and strengthen relationships between the community and police. They were selected from more than 540 applicants nationwide to receive one of 10 MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Awards. The Downtown Streets Team is made up of homeless volunteers who, in exchange for food and housing vouchers, job search services and other resources, maintain the community by sweeping streets, putting lines on soccer fields, performing janitorial work, cleaning parks and other activities. The police department also organizes a monthly meeting of north county agencies — the Office of Human Services, District Attorney's office, Veteran's Administration and County Mental Health service providers — to work on connecting homeless people with housing and services. MetLife deemed these partnerships as "Excellence in Civic Engagement" and will award the groups $15,000 to support their joint public-safety efforts. "Collaboration between community-based groups and police departments can reduce crime, stimulate housing and business activity, and improve the quality of life in lower-income neighborhoods," Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation, stated in a press release. "The Palo Alto partnership is an exemplary model for groups nationwide facing similar challenges and opportunities."

HIGH SCHOOL 'LOVE WEEK' ... It's "Love Week" at Gunn High School, student Jarrod Mock reported to the Board of Education Tuesday. As Mock, who's this year's Gunn student representative on the board, described it, Love Week activities include speed-dating on the quad, karaoke machines so students can "serenade their lovers" and — the grand finale — "unofficial marriages on the quad," complete with fake certificates. The school's upcoming Sadie Hawkins Dance, Mock added, will have the theme of "Throwback '90s Kids since this is the very last year Gunn will have any students who were born way back in the last century.

WE CAN BE HEROES! ... Residents who wish to become heroes without the hassles of joining a police academy, running through fires or doing that whole mutation-and-spandex thing now have a handy new tool at their disposal. The city's Fire Department partnered this week with the Santa Clara County Fire Chiefs Association to adopt Pulsepoint, an app that allows residents to track the fire department's activities and provide information that could be helpful during emergencies. This includes notifying residents with CPR training of incidents where their skills may be put to use and directing them toward the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED), a device that sends electric shocks to restore regular heart beat in people with arrhythmia. The city has recently purchased 52 AEDs for placement at all major public facilities. The local school district also plans to install 38 devices by June. At the same time, the Fire Department has partnered with Racing Hearts, a nonprofit that lobbied for the AEDs, on a new exercise to educate the community on where these devices can be found. The "Spot the Box" campaign, which runs until the end of February, requires users to download a free app that can be used to create a community map of AED locations. The app can be found at www.racinghearts.net/spotthebox. So far, the campaign has already mobilized students from local middle and high schools, who have formed teams to look for the devices. In his announcement of the campaign, Fire Chief Eric Nickel called it "a great way for the community to get involved and help our paramedics, firefighters and police officers to be more effective life savers."

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