LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — As millions watch the State of the Union address from home, seated near first lady Michelle Obama Tuesday will be a group of Los Angeles-area residents.

The guests – which include a Los Angeles Police Department captain and an ex-convict who started a prison program to help fellow inmates complete a two-year degree – are among 22 invited by the White House to attend President Obama’s speech.

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The group includes LAPD Capt. Phil Tingirides of Irvine, who recently spearheaded the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) program, which fosters cooperation between the LAPD and residents of the Watts housing developments scarred by race riots and subsequent gang violence.

A husband and father of six, Tingirides has worked for the LAPD since 1980. Thanks in part to the CSP program, officials have noted a 50-percent reduction in violent crime.

“When my husband called and said, ‘Hey, Emada! I just got a call from the White House. We’re going to the State of the Union Address,’ I thought he was kidding,” said Sgt. Emada Tingirides of the LAPD, Tingirides’ wife.

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Tingirides will be joined by Prophet Walker, who attended Loyola Marymount University’s School of Engineering following a six-year prison sentence for robbery and has since become a construction engineer.

Walker, a resident of Carson, has collaborated with Tingirides on the CSP program and is also a founding member of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, which advocates for sentencing reform and supports young men and women after incarceration.

In addition to Tingirides and Walker, Compton resident LeDaya Epps will be seated near the first lady. Epps, a mother of three, is one of only two women to have completed a union apprenticeship in construction and is on the crew building the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line.

Woodland Hills technical education teacher Katrice Mubiru, who encouraged Obama in a letter to support K-12 adult and career technical education, will also be attendance. Mubiru met and introduced Obama in July when he visited Los Angeles Trade-Technical College to highlight technical skills programs.

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