The foundation formed following the San Bruno pipeline explosion is considering a potential grant program intended to benefit workers who respond to such a tragedy.
The San Bruno Community Foundation approved earlier this month establishing a committee responsible for working with members of the local police and fire department to discuss support initiatives.
Though the idea is still in its formative stages and will continue developing, foundation Director Leslie Hatamiya lauded the potential vision.
“We were born out of a tragedy and disaster, so this speaks to where the money came from. And it is a way of honoring the Crestmoor neighborhood and what they went through and making sure the community is prepared moving forward,” said Hatamiya, the top administrator for the foundation charged with allocating the nearly $70 million paid by Pacific Gas and Electric to San Bruno following the explosion.
With the board’s approval to form the committee comes a later opportunity to fund a couple of grant initiatives aiming to offer police professional development and the fire department additional emergency response supplies.
For police, the department identified the Mindful Badge Initiative as a desirable training program which they may appreciate grant funding to attend. The program specializes in fortifying the bond between law enforcement departments and the communities they serve, by broadening the perspective of officers to be more compassionate and empathetic, according to the program’s website.
“It will help them dealing with their job and creates a healthier police force while improving their relationship with the community,” said Hatamiya.
Considering the rash of clashes across the nation between police and the communities they are appointed to serve — occasionally resulting in use of lethal force — Hatamiya said the mindfulness program is designed to prevent such concerns locally.
“We think San Bruno police have a good relationship with the community, but there is this larger national conversation around tension between communities and law enforcement,” she said.
The training offers additional mental health benefits to police who may be feeling overwhelmed by the immense pressures tied to their jobs as well, according to the website.
“It creates a healthier police force and improves the relationship with the community,” said Hatamiya.
San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini withheld comment on the nature of the program, but a staff report indicates City Manager Connie Jackson was receptive to the proposal for the foundation to support first responders.
Hatamiya said the grant funding could be successful in supporting programs which first responders may appreciate, but their departmental budgets do not account for.
Another idea floated for the initiative could be purchasing the supplies such as cots, blankets, hygiene supplies and a transport trailer to help operate an emergency shelter in the case of a natural disaster.
Hatamiya said traditionally such supplies were provided through assistance of the American Red Cross, but the organization cut its service in San Mateo County by half, giving rise to the need for such efforts to be funded locally.
“It would be great if we could build our own supply, given that San Bruno has gone through a huge disaster, I think there is heightened sensitivity for the need for that,” she said.
Pointing to recent tragedies such as the Sonoma County wildfires, plus national disasters in Florida, Texas, Mexico and Puerto Rico, Hatamiya said there is a general greater awareness about the need for adequate preparedness.
“People want to know that if something like that happened here, the city would be ready to help people,” she said.
She took time to add though that the programs identified are merely suggestions, and the concepts will be explored more thoroughly by the committee and their subsequent discussions with the police and fire departments.
“In my mind, these are just some ideas,” she said.
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