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Merdies Hayes

Stories by Merdies

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Group blasts party hosted by state Judicial Council

Leadership of the California Capitol Black Staff Association (CCBSA) has expressed outrage at the depiction of African American and transgender persons at a costume party hosted by employees of the Judicial Council.

GOP abandons healthcare plan

The Republican-led effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) collapsed this week when two additional GOP senators, Utah’s Mike Lee and Jerry Moran of Kansas, said they would vote “no” in a crucial vote that had been expected as early as next week. Their announcement meant that at least four of the 52 GOP senators were ready to block a measure that Republicans had promised for the past seven years to undertake.

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Medical issues among African Americans encourage doctors to discover solutions

King Hospital working to bridge health divide

Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Watts is taking bold steps to break through the barriers to good health within the African American community. And there is good reason why this proactive stance is so important, because the Black community—nationwide—has been witness to some of the worst health outcomes of any population. Officials at King Hospital are trying to remedy that situation by focusing on preventative measures that, they believe, will not only shine a light on historic health disparities in South Los Angeles, but also foster a better sense of health ownership and well-being.

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Post office named for Merle Haggard

In a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, the House of Representatives this week voted to name a post office in Bakersfield after country music legend Merle Haggard.

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‘Take charge of your life’ is advice from stroke patient

Having a stroke can be one of the most life-altering conditions a person could experience. There are many pre-stroke indicators that lead to what neurologists typically call a “brain accident,” but some things can be addressed early to prevent physical and mental incapacity from occurring.

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Medical issues among African Americans encourage doctors to discover solutions

King Hospital working to bridge health divide

Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Watts is taking bold steps to break through the barriers to good health within the African American community.

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Neighborhood Watch provides important tools to keep family, community safe

Palmdale National Night Out set July 26

Neighborhood Watch, Block Watch or Crime Watch—whatever the term may be—is one of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent crime and reduce fear. Having a safe, secure and informed neighborhood whose members communicate is a helpful and proven way to protect yourself, your family and your neighbors.

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Cities and states band together to continue climate change fight

R. Rex Parris lends voice to southland campaign

Cities across the nation and around the world are taking action against global warming as they recognize that climate change has tremendous implications for the livability, competitiveness and resilience of communities. Climate science has shown for decades that the earth is warming at an alarming rate because of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and, given that cities everywhere are responsible for up to 70 percent of all GHGs, many locales are on the front lines of climate events and impacts.

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Supervisors blast GOP healthcare; cite dire consequences for county

Citing dire consequences for Los Angeles County if the latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is signed into law, four of the five members of the Board of Supervisors said this week that the pending U.S. Senate bill would be a damaging step backward for Los Angeles County. The Republican Senate caucus this week decided to delay any vote on its new health care package—the Better Care Reconciliation Act—until after the July 4 recess.

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Summer nutrition programs strive to keep kids healthy and engaged

Local facilities will serve free meals

Access to healthy food through summer nutrition programs is of increasing importance in improving a child’s daily nutrition and maintaining proper food security.

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The ‘Black sound’ defines popular music for America and the world

Remembering the great names past and present

America began as a land in search of an identity. Colonial America, for instance, had no uniformity in the arts—specifically literature—because the newly-arrived White citizens hailed from Europe and could only reflect on past tales of Elizabethan lore. Once across the Atlantic,

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The role of the father is changing in the 21st century household

American families face new challenges

The American family is ever-changing. The “Modern Family,” if you will, finds fathers taking on a much more active role in caring for children inside and outside of the house.

Lancaster unveils 2017-18 budget

The city of Lancaster has presented its proposed fiscal year budget for 2017-18 with an eye toward financial stability, infrastructure and expansion of city services. So far, the proposed balanced budget amounts to $187.7 million and centers on principals such as diversifying and creating new revenue streams, and maintaining healthy operating revenues or, more commonly put, holding a “rainy day fund” (minimum 28 percent) in case of any economic downturn. City officials believe that by adhering to these and other important financial guidelines, the budget can be both flexible and collaborative.

Call for more urban farms

In citing the recent notoriety and early success of Ron Finley’s urban agricultural enclave in the Crenshaw District, the Los Angeles City Council this week tentatively approved an ordinance to grant tax relief to city farmers and encourage them to transform empty lots into urban farms.

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The role of the father is changing in the 21st century household

American families face new challenges

The American family is ever-changing. The “Modern Family,” if you will, finds fathers taking on a much more active role in caring for children in and out of the house.

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Early athletics can provide children with many important life lessons

Palmdale hosts Challenger British Soccer Camp

In Ancient Greece, Aristotle promoted the benefits of a “sound mind and a sound body.” That correlation is true today, especially for young people. Allowing your children to participate in youth sports is an outstanding opportunity to explore and develop lifelong skills. Youth sports not only play an important role in exercise, but can promote mental and psychological advantages that will serve them well.

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Summer concert lineups set

The Antelope Valley is among the southland’s most warm and inviting locales for outdoor music. This summer, the BLVD in downtown Lancaster will present a variety of acts as part of the Sierra Toyota Summer Concert Series co-sponsored by BeX Bar and Grill. The weekly music festival begins at 6 p.m. June 15 with Queen Nation, a tribute band to the late Freddy Mercury and Queen. Look for renditions of your favorite Queen songs such as “Somebody to Love,” “Killer Queen” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

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Jordan Downs plan underway

The long anticipated redevelopment of the Jordan Downs housing project got underway this week with Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Joe Buscaino proclaiming a turning point for Watts. The $1 billion plan seeks to convert the 700-unit site into a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood of 1,410 units with 160,000 square feet retail space, nine acres of green space and a new recreation center.

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Fun reading during summer break can improve child’s classroom work

Palmdale Library hosts ‘Reading By Design'

Summer reading can provide a wealth of help to any student returning to school in the fall. Every school district nationwide and their partners with the city library will agree that students who pick up three to four books during the months-long break will be better prepared academically, when they return to school. The Palmdale Library has been an advocate of summer reading for many years, and will conduct a “Reading By Design” program through July 29.

Prison advocates to gather today for answers at Corona facility

Death of Shaylene Graves

Advocates and families of women who have allegedly undergone psychological and physical torture in prison will convene today at the California Institution for Women (CIW) in Corona to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Shaylene “Light Blue” Graves, a 27-year-old prisoner found dead in her cell.

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Mental illness is still an issue that causes silent suffering

Exploring the facts versus the myths

About one in five American adults—roughly 43.8 million people—will experience some form of mental illness in any given year. As Mental Health Awareness Month winds down, the statistics are startling regarding how pervasive the many aspects of mental illness can be. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that approximately one in 25 adults (9.8 million people) will experience a serious mental illness this year that substantially interferes with one or more major life activities. About one in five youth ages 13 to 18 years are projected to experience a severe mental disorder at some point in their life. Possibly more stunning is that 16 million Americans have had at least one major depressive episode—including a suicide attempt—in the past year.

‘Beast Side’ provides rare look into peril of American ghetto

The latest in a series of short books about the peril of the inner city has the literary world talking. D. Watkins’ “The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America” (Skyhorse Publishing, New York, New York, 2016) takes the reader on a brief but informative tour of not only the author’s hometown of East Baltimore, Md., but maintains a “dispatch” style of writing that uncovers both the inflicted and self-inflicted wounds of Black youth.

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An early job can provide wealth of opportunities for young people

Teens now compete with older workers

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that each year about 3 million teenagers graduate from high school, and another 1.5 million earn a college degree. Unfortunately, for many, the fit between themselves and future employment is precarious at best. Teen labor force participation has been on a downward trend and the decline is expected to continue through 2024.

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Playhouse hosts ‘The Odd Couple’

The Palmdale Playhouse will present Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” tonight through Sunday afternoon. Showtime is at 8 tonight, 2 and 8 p.m. tomorrow, and Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.

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LED lights may bring savings

It was about one year ago when Lancaster began a project to improve both traffic and pedestrian safety and reduce operational expenses. The first step was to acquire new streetlights from Southern California Edison (SCE) and begin converting them from high-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting to light emitting diode, commonly known as LED lighting.

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Modern moms have more choices, but less free time and assistance

Multi-tasking her way through motherhood

Modern motherhood is a far cry from yesteryear. Just preparing breakfast, for instance, today requires careful planning and dutiful attention to what is best for children. These days, the familiar bowl of breakfast cereal is often paired with organic, soy or even almond milk. Should you prepare “free range” or “natural eggs?” Forget the Colonel or Chicken McNuggets for lunch. Now moms shop for hormone-free, organic, or “cruelty-free” raised chicken breasts.

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Salute to Mojave Desert; Mother’s Day tea slated

The Lancaster Museum of Art and History, 665 W. Lancaster Blvd., will host tomorrow through July 30 “Made in the Mojave,” a unique exhibit showcasing the wonders of the Mojave Desert.

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Alzheimer’s disease continues to baffle scientists in U.S. and around the world

Sixth leading cause of death

Alzheimer’s disease continues to baffle neuroscientists around the world. This year, the disease was listed by the Alzheimer’s Association (AA) as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States; just 20 years ago it was 13th. Experts generally agree that there is a lack of progress in determining a cause, providing individual treatment protocols and, eventually, finding a cure.

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Planet Fitness 5K set May 13; proceeds will benefit Girls Club

From the days of Jim Fix and “The Complete Book of Running,” to today’s wildly popular 5- and 10-kilometer runs, Americans for the past 40 years have enthusiastically laced up their shoes and hit the jogging trails. One such event will take place May 13, when the Planet Fitness 5K Run traverses a part of Palmdale through the picturesque Antelope Valley Country Club.

New apartment complex will compliment Jefferson Park area

It could be a two-fold endeavor. City officials joined members of the private sector on April 22 to break ground on the Paul Williams Apartments, a 41-unit affordable housing development on Jefferson Boulevard near 10th Avenue in the hope that this and other construction efforts can help to rebuild and modernize South Los Angeles and its adjoining neighborhoods, while providing badly needed housing in a densely populated area. Completion is expected in late summer 2018.

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Activist group leads charge against South LA oil drilling

The recent federal decision to encourage more oil exploration has resulted in increased opposition to drilling in Los Angeles neighborhoods. STAND-LA (Standing Together Against Neighborhood Drilling) said this week that Council President Herb Wesson plans to introduce a motion calling for a study on phasing out the practice near homes, schools, parks, churches and healthcare facilities.

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‘4/20’ goes mainstream as more states legalize weed

They call the day “4/20.” It’s the one day out of the year that marijuana aficionados attest they can celebrate cannabis sativa with relative impunity. When California voters voted in November 2016 to legalize recreational use of marijuana, they believed that the state could be in for an economic boom. So far, eight states have legalized recreational marijuana, and another 29 allow for its medical use. California is recognized as the world’s largest legal market and will probably define the legality of recreational marijuana for the world.

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Book clubs unpack mysteries

The African American Book Club at the Palmdale Library will discuss “If By Chance” by D’Norgia Taylor on April 18 at 6:45 p.m. The book focuses on a small community in the Pacific Northwest that is traumatized by tragedy and humiliation.

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Good Friday service recalls Christ’s ultimate victory over spiritual death

His last words from cross resonate today

Millions of Christians around the world will attend a special church service today in which a group of pastors will recite and reflect on Christ’s seven final statements from the cross. These were powerful words that many Christians believe were revelations of His heart and ministry to us. While each statement carries with it the weight of the Gospel, taken as a whole these words help to provide a portrait of God’s plan of salvation through the blood of Jesus. Good Friday service has been a mainstay of many Christian denominations for generations, and while no one can be absolutely certain of the meaning of Jesus’ final words, the Christian faithful take this yearly opportunity to reflect on Christ’s suffering and give praise for the ultimate sacrifice He made for humanity.

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Barger seeks to review options to assist homeless mentally ill

The Board of Supervisors voted this week to review its options for helping mentally ill homeless individuals who refuse treatment, including the potential for legislative changes. Supervisor Kathryn Barger said it was time to consider changes, as the county prepares to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to counter homelessness. She estimated that about 30 percent of individuals living on the street suffer from some kind of mental illness.

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‘New era’ of energy production draws ire of environmentalists

President Trump rolls back Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan

With a “new era” of energy production given credence with President Donald Trump’s executive order to help revive the coal industry and—it is anticipated—to create jobs, critics in California and in several other states believe that years of progress in combating global warming may have been for naught. President Trump’s move makes good on his campaign promise to rollback the Obama administration’s attempt to wean America from fossil fuels.

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Stepped-up deportation actions result in anxiety among the undocumented

DOJ, local law enforcement at odds

Most residents of Southern California strongly oppose President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. This assessment from a recent survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California found that the travel ban on majority-Muslim countries, plans for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the stepped up efforts by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of deportations have a majority of residents of Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties as well as the Inland Empire standing in opposition to the new federal directives.

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Chuck Berry taught world the meaning of rock ‘n roll

Legendary musician dies at 90

By now, all of the accolades and applause have been afforded to the late Chuck Berry. The man who more than any other musician put a stamp on rock ‘n roll music died last weekend at his Wentzville, Mo. home at age 90. Known for the classic hits “Maybellene, “Johnny B. Goode,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “School Days” and “Sweet Little Sixteen,” Berry was America’s most influential rock ‘n roll singer/songwriter and left a legacy of musical influence that will likely never be repeated. On these and dozens more seminal recordings, Berry played clarion guitar riffs and a relentlessly rhythmic blend of blues and country music to define the rock ‘n roll sound while celebrating teenage life and loves of 1950s and ‘60s America.

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Chuck Berry taught world the meaning of rock ‘n roll

Legendary musician dies at 90

By now, all of the accolades and applause have been afforded to the late Chuck Berry. The man who more than any other musician put a stamp on rock ‘n roll music died last weekend at his Wentzville, Mo. home at age 90. Known for the classic hits “Maybellene, “Johnny B. Goode,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “School Days” and “Sweet Little Sixteen,” Berry was America’s most influential rock ‘n roll singer/songwriter and left a legacy of musical influence that will likely never be repeated. On these and dozens more seminal recordings, Berry played clarion guitar riffs and a relentlessly rhythmic blend of blues and country music to define the rock ‘n roll sound while celebrating teenage life and loves of 1950s and ‘60s America.

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‘Kill ‘Em And Leave’ provides inside glimpse of the Godfather of Soul

The intriguing life of James Brown is best explained in just two words from the forward of James McBride’s riveting work “Kill ‘Em And Leave” (Spiegel & Grau, New York, NY, 2016) in which the author is warned “watch yourself” when undertaking the writing of the southern history of one of America’s most famous entertainers. McBride ventured into Barnwell, S.C.—Brown’s birthplace—a little country town where Blacks and Whites still maintain an uneasy racial paradigm and where the inquisitive person can find himself in more trouble than it’s worth.

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Proposed cutbacks in medical insurance result in uncertainty for county and state

GOP unveils American Health Care Act

The rancorous debate and political standoff on Capitol Hill over the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) has the public, physicians and providers wondering what will happen to healthcare funding. Medicaid allocations to states is expected to be sharply curtailed next year. For California, it’s called Medi-Cal and depending who you ask, 1.2 million residents of Los Angeles County and another 13 million people nationwide—may no longer have access to a primary care physician just at a time when America’s overall health is at substandard levels.

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American women are making history; traditional obstacles slow to change

More women serve as the ‘breadwinner’

Women are making history. You can see it in the home, the workplace, the media and, in judging from the worldwide Women’s March in January, definitely in the streets. Of course, it wasn’t always that way. It’s been a gradual, hard-fought process highlighted recently in Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House. Politics may be the most visible aspect of the American woman’s social influence. Locally, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors can serve as an example of the shifting power base with four of its five seats (Sheila Kuehl, Hilda Solis, Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn) occupied by powerful, influential women with extensive national and statewide experience in setting policy.

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American women are making history; traditional obstacles slow to change

More women serve as the ‘breadwinner’

Women are making history. You can see it in the home, the workplace, the media and, in judging from the worldwide Women’s March in January, definitely in the streets. Of course, it wasn’t always that way. It’s been a gradual, hard-fought process highlighted recently in Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House. Politics may be the most visible aspect of the American woman’s social influence. Locally, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors can serve as an example of the shifting power base with four of its five seats (Sheila Kuehl, Hilda Solis, Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn) occupied by powerful, influential women with extensive national and statewide experience in setting policy.

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The strength of Black media

African Americans have played a pivotal role in helping to shape American journalism.

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The strength of Black media

African Americans have played a pivotal role in helping to shape American journalism. From the abolitionist crusade of Frederick Douglass’ “The North Star,” to the popular “O” magazine published by Oprah Winfrey, the Black press has traditionally shined a spotlight on the pressing issues pertaining to its diverse community. Ebony magazine is perhaps the most famous Black publication. Founded by John H. Johnson, Ebony was the standard-bearer of Johnson Publishing Co. and at its height boasted a circulation of almost 2 million readers. Johnson used a $500 loan in 1942 to launch a business empire that made him one of America’s most influential businessmen with his company eventually securing major holdings in book and magazine publishing, fashion and cosmetics, and radio and television stations.

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Top acts headline a showcase of stars now through spring at LPAC

Beatles, Rolling Stones tribute ‘battle’ tonight at 7

From the hottest comedian on the circuit, to classic theater and musical trips down memory lane, the Lancaster Performing Arts Center for the next few weeks promises some of the Southland’s best entertainment choices. For fans who wish to relive the British Invasion—when mop tops and mini skirts were all the rage—then tonight’s “Beatles vs. Stones: A Musical Showdown” review is for you. There has always been a debate about which of these two legendary musical groups was the most popular. While the Beatles relied more so on melodic love songs, the Rolling Stones were a more blues-influenced band.

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California storms bring needed rain as well as unexpected havoc

Oroville emergency spotlights crumbling infrastructure

One year ago Southern California was wondering what happened to El Nino? Outside of a few showers, there was practically no rain to speak of. “Darn those wacky weathercasters!” “Curse those miserable meteorologists!” were common complaints. One year later and we’re inundated with too much rain with more mud flowing, more floods growing and more hillsides sliding than anyone could have anticipated.

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Valentine’s Day traditions are more than just candy and hearts

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt” —Charles M. Schultz

The “Peanuts” creator may have been on to something. Love is the first thing that comes to mind, when you think of Valentine’s Day. The symbolism can’t be missed: Heart-shaped boxes of candy, heart-shaped greeting cards, floral arrangements with heart-shaped love notes, and even a little cherub sporting a bow and arrow. With Valentine’s Day arriving next Tuesday, it’s time for love and affection toward those we desire and cherish most.

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Seat belts protected children in local school bus crash

Some special needs students and others aboard a school bus that collided with a Cadillac in Lancaster were spared serious injuries and likely have seat belts to thank for it, according to law enforcement. The injuries of those aboard the bus ranged from moderate to minor in the crash reported about 7:15 a.m. Tuesday at 20th Street East and East Lancaster Boulevard, according to the California Highway Patrol, who added that all of the students appeared to be wearing seat belts.

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High-tech surveillance coming to a neighborhood near you

Sheriff wants ‘aerial vehicle’

Is “Big Brother” watching us? A few weeks ago, Los Angeles Sheriff Jim McDonnell held a news conference at the Hall of Justice to announce that the use of a drone—specifically an “unmanned aerial vehicle”—for search-and-rescue, bomb detection and certain hostage situations is a good idea to help keep the public and law enforcement personnel safe. Many law enforcement entities across the nation—including the Los Angeles Police Department—have purchased such aerial reconnaissance devices to assist in their efforts to increase public safety and to keep at least one-step ahead of criminal activity.

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