FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- High-quality early learning opportunities can help prevent behavior problems, suspensions and later crime.
That's why the nonprofit "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids" is focused on providing kids early education resources to reduce crime.
Law enforcement members of the group "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids" read to kindergarteners at the Lighthouse for Children in Downtown Fresno to support high-quality early learning.
They say these early years of a child's education are the building blocks for the rest of their life.
"When children are given a strong foundation, they're more likely to succeed in school and have lower suspensions and expulsions and are more likely to graduate from high school-all of which coordinate to lower juvenile crime," Fresno County Chief Probation Officer, Kirk Haynes said.
"Fight Crime: Invest in Kids" members agreed that education, law enforcement and crime are interconnected.
"I cannot envision a situation where the Fresno Police Department succeeds, and the educational system fails," Fresno Chief of Police Paco Balderrama said.
Many in law enforcement drew from their own experiences to show how critical early education can be, including Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni.
"I've arrested and come in contact with many individuals over the years who turned or fell into a life of crime because they didn't have the resources of high-quality education available to them and/or they failed to make education a priority in their lives," the Sheriff said.
The Sheriff remembered a man who was involved in a life of crime. Although not serious, he was on the wrong side of the law.
"He told me he always wanted to do good and thought he would've been a good police officer, but because he failed to stay in school and made many bad decisions, that was no longer a possibility," the Sheriff said.
The Sheriff added that early care and education are critical to keeping kids out of crime and said it is too late once they get into the adult system.
"There are over 20,000 gang members in Fresno County and only 3,100 jail beds," the Sheriff explained. "We cannot lock everyone up to reduce crime. We must focus on these programs at a young age."