Scotts Valley residents will be seeing red all week—red ribbons that is. From lapel pins and bracelets to red banners up and down Scotts Valley Drive, red will be everywhere in an effort to bring visibility to Red Ribbon Week, a national anti-drug campaign, sponsored locally by the Scotts Valley Police Department.
On Monday, officers from the SVPD, Santa Cruz Police Department, UCSC Police Department and California Highway Patrol, were in Scotts Valley to kick off the week, in which law enforcement agencies join forces with local schools to bring awareness to the importance of living a drug-free lifestyle.
“The whole idea is to send a message out to our young people that there is a better way,” Scotts Valley Police Chief John Weiss said. “You don’t have to listen to gang members whispering in your ear. You don’t have to experiment with drugs or get drunk. There are so many more healthy ways to live your life.”
Red Ribbon Week, which the SVPD has been sponsoring since 1987, was started by the family and friends of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, who was kidnapped on Feb. 7, 1985 by drug traffickers in Mexico, then tortured and killed. Camarena had been working undercover in Mexico for four years and his efforts resulted in the eradication of a multimillion dollar narcotics manufacturing operation in Chihuahua, Mexico.
As a way to remember him and his efforts, people in his hometown of Calexico, Calif. began wearing red ribbons and speaking about drug prevention. The next year, Red Ribbon Week was adopted by the California State PTA. Then in 1988, it was recognized nationally.
Today, Red Ribbon Week is observed in cities across the country the last week of October each year. During the week, people are asked to pledge to live a drug-free lifestyle by wearing red ribbons and participating in community-wide, anti-drug events.
“We encourage Californians to build healthy, drug-free communities and lifestyles. During Red Ribbon Week, we can take this opportunity to be vocal and visible in our efforts to achieve a drug-free community,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said.
In Scotts Valley, Red Ribbon Week will bring a week full of activities at the high school, including announcements, pledges and lunchtime activities. The police department is also sponsoring a poster contest for students in kindergarten through eighth-grade. The winners, one in each grade level, will be picked up from school on Friday in the department’s SWAT vehicle and treated to lunch at Bruno’s BBQ. One grand prize winner will also receive a $500 gift certificate from Scotts Valley Cycle Sports.
“If you think about what our young people in Scotts Valley, the county and nation are facing, we are trying to compete against drugs, gangs, a terrible economy, sometimes poor parenting. There are so many things that are stacked against young kids today, and that is why we are here,” Chief Weiss said. “We are sending a message and that is critical because if we stop doing it, if we get too busy, who will?”