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CHPD awarded $600k grant for new anti-tobacco cop, wrapped vehicle

By Mike Hazlip–
Citrus Heights City Council members on Thursday unanimously voted to accept a $606,000 grant to curb youth tobacco use over a three year period.

The grant, provided by the California Department of Public Health’s Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement program, will provide funding for a full-time Youth Services Officer, along with a new police vehicle.

Commander Jason Russo and Lt. Kris Frey told the council in a joint presentation that the grant will also fund department training, education resources, media outreach, and equipment aimed at reducing under age tobacco use. The new officer will bring the total number of sworn full-time Citrus Heights officers up to 92.

A recent survey conducted by the Citrus Heights Police Department’s Youth and Family Services Division found 34 incidents involving under age tobacco use during the 2018-2019 school year. “We are on track to exceed the previous year,” Lt. Frey told the council.

According to a December 2019 news release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 3 high school students in the U.S. are current tobacco users, with e-cigarettes being the most common product used.

While the majority of local grant funds, $170,000 per year, will go towards the new officer’s salary and benefits, part of the funds will be allocated to a new police vehicle with a graphic wrap.

During discussions, Mayor Jeff Slowey said he’d like to see the vehicle wrap be installed by one of several local businesses offering the service. Police and other council members agreed to pursue this option once funds become available in July.

Also included in the grant is a provision for vaping detection devices to be installed in bathrooms and locker rooms of local middle and high schools. Additionally, the program will include undercover operations targeting both business owners who sell tobacco products to minors as well as adults who buy tobacco products for minors.

The outreach programs are funded by the California Healthcare Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016 (Prop 56). Other law enforcement agencies throughout the state also received grants.

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