LONG BEACH - Ask any law enforcement leader today if we can simply arrest our way to lower crime rates and the answer is usually "no."
What is needed along with law enforcement is a healthy community that provides support for its children, adults and seniors to live full and productive lives, police chiefs agree.
Slashed budgets, however, have reduced many of the social programs designed to help local police departments protect communities.
Which is why someone like Betty Jean Thompson is so important.
Thompson, who is known as "BJ," has been a lifelong volunteer, going back to the hours she logged as a teen at Los Alamitos Hospital, and she has focused much of that work on education and local youths.
The retired registered nurse oversees programs at the Long Beach Police Foundation such as the Long Beach Police Explorers program. The Explorers offers kids ages 13 to 18 a chance to see what police work is like while teaching them valuable skills and building leadership and character.
"That's why it's so important," Thompson said. "It gets youths involved, it helps empower them, and they in turn go out and serve as a positive example for other kids in the community."
Thompson began volunteering at her children's schools - Burcham Elementary and Marshall Middle School - when they started attending schools in Long Beach. That led to the PTA, where she became director of Health and Safety for the Long Beach Council PTA and a committee member of "Health on Thirty," a program that focused on pupils' health in the 33rd District of the PTA.
She's also a graduate of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, where she focused on education and character in the classroom.
That work led Thompson to join the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) movement at local schools, which she eventually came to lead as Long Beach Youth Activities and DARE president.
When DARE was wiped out by city cuts to the Police Department budget in 2011, Thompson shifted to the Long Beach Police Foundation, the nonprofit organization that has taken over the management of some DARE-funded and supervised activities, such as the Police Explorers program.
Of course, Thompson doesn't limit her efforts to those programs. She also volunteers for the Police Department's Quality of Life program, which dedicates a small team of officers to work with the homeless to reduce the number of people living on the streets who get caught up in the legal system.
And there's the work she is doing for the preparation of the next Long Beach Police Academy, which includes hours of interviews with potential recruits.
"BJ does it all, but she does it very quietly so most people don't know she's there," said Kathy Berry, the Police Foundation's executive director. "Thankfully for us, she is. We'd be lost without her."
Thompson is quiet. She speaks softly and she doesn't like to attract attention.
When talking about her contributions she refers to her work on a small scale, she doesn't take any credit and, when told about compliments from throughout the Police Department, she just smiles shyly or bows her head.
But she knows well the power of community and of support. She will tell you her years as a nurse showed her that healing from physical ailments requires mental and emotional support as well as medicine.
Her many years in local classrooms and working with children and teens has shown her the root of so many problems for children are extremely difficult circumstances at home.
"There's a whole bunch of things you get exposed to in life, and you realize there are a lot people who need help," she said. "So you do what you can. It might not feel like much, but it does make a difference. And you feel better knowing you've contributed something, you can give back to your community, for everyone who ever helped you."