The proliferation of child-abduction-attempt reports (like one yesterday in Parker) following ten-year-old Jessica Ridgeway's abduction and murder has plenty of people looking for what they can do to make kids safer. One example: Jessica's Angels, a group whose members (including driving force Alex Groen, a Pomona High School junior seen here) will be watching over kids en route to school starting today despite the Jefferson County School District's current reluctance to bless their efforts. The Jessica's Angels Facebook page features the following description of the mission:
We are all concerned as a community and we need to work together as one to make a difference. All children should be taught to be wary of all strangers they meet on the streets. This program is simply to get people out into their neighborhoods to keep their eyes open and watch. The Angels will not be escorting individual children. There are never any guarantees. but we hope that by just putting more people out in the community to watch they can watch the children and watch over each other. Let us know if you want to help, or just get outside of your homes and look around. Together we can make a difference in our community.
But as reported by 7News, Jeffco schools has not yet agreed to partner with the organization. Here's a district statement provided to the station:
Our focus remains the safety and security of all of our students, elementary through high school. Jeffco Superintendent Dr. Cindy Stevenson talked with the organizer of Jessica's Angels Wednesday, to explore avenues that would benefit the community and Jeffco students. The founder was leaving town on Thursday. He and the superintendent agreed to continue the conversation next week.
Despite this uncertainty, Jessica's Angels decided not to delay, as noted in this Facebook post:
The sole purpose of Jessica's Angels is to help keep the children in our community safe by raising awareness and watching out for each other, not to focus on the decision of the school district. I am sure they have valid reasons for the decision. So let's guide our posts in a more positive direction. Based on the response and unity of the community in this project, Jessica's Angels has officially decided to continue with the project. We have gotten generous donations to create shirts that we will get out to the interested volunteers. Much like we wear our Bronco colors to support our team, we can all stand out in purple to show that we are watching out for our community.
The volunteers won't have direct contact with the kids. Rather, they'll simply be present to watch out for anything untoward. The plans for today are described in the following post, shared yesterday afternoon:
Tomorrow we WILL go forth with the project! We will be passing out a limited number of T-Shirts in the Club Crest neighborhood near Warder Elementary at the intersection of Club Crest Drive and Carr Street. We will also be in the neighborhood near Weber Elementary at the park across the street at 81st Street and Pomona Drive. We encourage everyone to get outside and watch regardless of if you have a shirt and wherever you may live! We will begin our focus in those two communities to start, and if you are interested in coming out to help watch in those areas, PLEASE do! This program is for communities everywhere, so go out and observe to make a difference no matter where you live! We are asking for 30 minutes of your time after the kids begin walking to school in the mornings, and after school as they head home.
Everyone who is involved: You should stay with a partner or group at all times if you are capable of doing so. There is no need to be on school property, because our focus is on the neighborhoods surrounding the schools. Jessica's Angels does not suggest interaction with students OR strangers. We are there simply to observe. If you see anything suspicious, call your local police department, as you would any other time. Jessica's Angels is a group that is not asking anyone to be at any specific place at any specific time. We are simply encouraging all citizens in every area to get up and observe their communities. We are a group to raise awareness and get the word out.
Thank you all and I hope to see everyone out in their communities starting tomorrow!
It'll be interesting to see how today's launch goes, whether the Jeffco school district will sign on, and how long it will last. In the meantime, here's hoping no one with bad intentions gets hold of a Jessica's Angels T-shirt -- because they're reserved for people who want to heal a community still reeling from a senseless crime.
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Look below to see the 7News report on Jessica's Angels.
More from our News archive: "Child abduction attempt in Parker, possible Halloween impact post-Austin Sigg arrest."