Devoted to reducing the violent crime that has plagued Stockton over the past several years, Lodi Unified School District President Ralph Womack will begin a new job on Monday in an attempt to reduce violence.
While continuing to serve on the school board, Womack will become director of Stockton’s Operation Cease Fire, which is part of a Stockton program called the Marshall Plan on Crime. The intent, he said, is to curb the high homicide rate that has rocked the county seat by reaching out to young people who have committed violent crimes.
There were 58 homicides within Stockton city limits in 2011, and 71 more last year.
Womack’s position with the City of Stockton is not related to his elected position on the Lodi Unified school board.
A North Stockton resident, Womack described his new position as coordinating gatherings between community groups, church representatives, school officials and gang members to encourage offenders who want to put an end to the violence in their community.
“It’s a daunting task,” Womack said.
The plan is to invite violent individuals to a gathering where community groups try to get them out of gang activity and the violence that goes with it, he said.
“The folks who have been identified are invited to participate,” Womack said. “We deliver a very clear message — ‘Your violence is not acceptable.’”
Sometimes, family members of people who were shot will tell their stories about how gang violence has affected them emotionally, Womack said.
“Pretty much it’s respectful, but it’s clear,” he said. “You have a meal with them and talk.”
Womack said he won’t attend the meetings personally, but he will organize them.
Womack was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Lodi Unified School District board of trustees in December 2011. His term will expire in 2016.
Womack was previously an adjunct instructor at San Joaquin Delta College and the University of Phoenix. He also served two years on the Academic Senate for Delta College and spent 32 years in law enforcement.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.