Angeles Community Policing is six months old
The question is ... "What's
YOUR critique of LA Community Policing?"
Where do you think community policing should be going in LA? Where
would you like it to go?
As the one year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it occurs to me
that Los Angeles Community Policing, and the LACP.org forum, is
six months old.
It's been quite a year for the nation ... it's been quite a six
months for LACP.
The events of 9/11, and who I am, both contributed directly to the
creation of this grassroots forum. Let me explain ...
As I reflect back I recall the early morning phone call from my
ex-wife, June, telling me I should turn on the TV ... the first
Tower had just been hit. A bit of smoke was billowing out the side,
and a second string newscaster was saying that it might have been
struck by a plane.
I was watching when the second Tower was attacked. It was the beginning
of a day spent in the company of CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX. Everyone,
on every channel, was trying to grasp the magnitude of what was
happening, and figure out what was going on.
And the pictures kept coming ...
A prisoner to the media, and unable to help, a flood of emotions
was swirling inside me.
Where I'm From
I made the decision to come West over 20 years ago ... you know,
for "the business." But I was born on 14th Street in Manhattan,
and although my folks had moved us around a bit, to New Jersey,
Virginia and Connecticut, as a young adult I'd returned to The City.
I attended New York University for film / television and journalism,
where I'd met June, and prior to our coming to Los Angeles we'd
lived for quite a few years in Brooklyn Heights, which sits directly
across the East River from the southernmost tip of Manhattan, and
the Twin Towers that dominated Wall Street.
To be honest, when it was first built I didn't like the look of
the World Trade Center much. But over time I had to admit the views
of downtown from the Brooklyn Heights promenade are ... I mean were
... spectacular. Now the skyline is empty.
So ... I'm a New Yorker.
Both sides of my family are Irish Catholic. My father was an oldest
son, as am I, and one of 13 children - nine boys and four girls.
The main Murray homestead is just outside New York City's boundaries
in Rockville Center, Long Island.
Dad had started a family tradition back before World War II, when
the Murrays began serving in the volunteer fire department. This
tradition continues today.
Back East, many of the local fire departments outside the City are
staffed with volunteers. A paid driver may be at the station, and
when a call sounds, he'll drive the truck to the location. But the
rest of the crew simply shows up. They keep their fire fighting
equipment, their coats, boots, gloves and hats, in the trunk of
Growing up, our family parties were a riot. Everyone had scanners
in their homes (beepers didn't exist) and it was not unusual for
an alarm to sound and in an instant half the adult group would be
dashing out to their vehicles ... and gone.
Because that's how it works ... you all volunteer, and you all
show up ... all the time.
Dozens of my uncles and cousins (and I have some 60 first cousins)
have served in every capacity, firefighter, Lieutenant, Captain
and Chief. And to this day my eighty-something year-old Uncle Matt
answers hundreds of calls a year. Of course, he no longer runs into
burning buildings ... he's a volunteer fire-police officer now,
directing traffic, keeping folks back, assisting however he can.
Others in my family had pursued careers as cops, and everyone
participated in the Church.
So ... I was taught to be of service ...
The Towers Fall
When the Towers fell I knew thousands were killed. I knew instantly.
I'd been in those Towers many times, and felt them sway. I'd looked
down. I knew ...
Being a New Yorker, and being from an large Irish Catholic family
filled with firemen and cops, I could only imagine the special horror
being experienced locally that day.
It was bad enough being transfixed in front of a television here.
Shortly after the Towers fell, my eleven year old daughter called
asking if I thought any of our relatives were in them. I'd already
calculated, correctly it turned out, that because the Towers came
down so quickly the Murrays, who'd naturally have responded to this
catastrophe, would have had time just enough time to drive into
the City from Rockville Center, but not to get up and inside the
No one in my family had been killed.
Volunteering in Los Angeles
When I first came to Los Angeles I was busy trying to build a career.
After my divorce I purchased my first home, a small two bedroom
house just big enough for my daughter and me in Montecito Heights,
a community in Northeast LA bordered by the Arroyo Seco.
Putting down roots, I became involved in my Neighborhood's Improvement
Association. That's when I realized no one in my immediate area
was looking after local security. Being a hillside community with
considerable open space we are particularly susceptible to brush
fires, so I thought I might help out with that. But I discovered
the Los Angeles Fire Department is all paid.
So ... I joined a nearby Neighborhood Watch ...
Our Senior Lead Officer told us about the Hollenbeck Volunteer program,
which I attended a few years ago. I graduated at the Academy in
a ceremony where I was sworn in as a "Volunteer Employee"
for LAPD, a category I was told designates that, though we're not
paid, we'd have insurance coverage if injured during an official
I also became a Community-Police Advisory Board member (C-PAB),
and it has been my privilege to serve Hollenbeck in this capacity
I came to understand and appreciate the structure of LAPD, and attended
a number of annual C-PAB Summits. I loved meeting C-PAB members
from the other 17 Divisions at these events, but frustrated that
we had no way to reach each other throughout the year.
Still, it was encouraging and energizing to know there were people
in each of the 18 LAPD Divisions who participated in community policing
... others who regularly volunteered their energies towards ensuring
9/11 and LA Community Policing
A couple months after 9/11, when the dust had settled and the holidays
were over, I began trying to find other C-PAB members in earnest.
I figured if ever there was a moment to find one another it was
But repeated attempts through any number of channels to establish
contacts at other C-PABs were unsuccessful. The need to maintain
an individual's "confidentiality" was sighted, which I
understood, but I also understood that there was no "rule"
about this ... that as community members we should be able to self-identify
ourselves, and make ourselves available to others, as a choice.
So ... around the beginning of March, I set up a little website
In the inaugural front page article I wrote, "In
today's world, where the City of Los Angeles must live with the
threat of both international and local terrorists (gangs), real
Community Policing is not a nicety … it's essential. It seems it's
up to us community members to lead the way ... "
about the essential need for an ongoing open dialogue, and about
the need for a robust partnership with all the stakeholders - residents,
law enforcement officers and government.
I wrote about community policing ...
From the beginning the response, your response, was incredible,
and almost overwhelming. It was obvious that what I'd written stuck
a cord, and that this open grassroots forum could fill a need. The
comments I got spoke volumes about how you felt.
click here if you've not seen the "Your
Comments" page before.)
It's gratifying to note that the Police Commission, members of the
Department both command and rank and file, and many officials at
City Hall have responded, too.
What was originally intended to be a much smaller endeavor quickly
became a full time advocacy.
LACP has grown exponentially, so that at this point 10,000 pages
are referenced each month. Every day a couple of hundred unique
visitors check out the website.
The group email list grows steadily, too. Anyone is able to join
simply by clicking on any number of "Add Me" links on the website.
There are no dues or fees for Los Angeles Community Policing "membership,"
which is entirely voluntary.
One belongs to LACP if one says they do …
Your critiques of LACP.org specifically, and the state of local
community policing in general, have all helped shape the Los Angeles
Community Policing forum into what it's become today. In Letters
to the Editor, articles you've written, emails you've sent and during
both public and private encounters, you've let LACP know your point
of view, what issues are important to the community, and how to
The interactive LA Community Policing Calendar, established in July,
lists all the major Division, Bureau and City-wide events, making
it possible to meet each other across the LA area ...
Where Do We Go From Here?
Six months later Los Angeles Community Policing is an as yet un-funded
California 501(c)3 non profit organization, struggling to survive.
But we're determined to move forward with our work, expanding the
ability of the community to express itself, and providing timely
information. As advocates, we continue to persuade the community
Our sole purpose is to seek paths to continue to promote, encourage
and share community policing and community government causes and
ideas ... and, of course, to continue the web publishing of the
I am very grateful that throughout the last six months others have
joined me. Without these voices the website would be incomplete,
an unbalanced monotone expressing a single point of view instead
of the community forum it's meant to be.
Ms. Bobbie Logan, the LACP Director who worked so hard to set up
the non-profit, also produced a series of articles about criteria
for selecting a new LAPD Chief. She attended and reported on each
of the set of seven Police Commission community criteria meetings
held recently all over Los Angeles.
At the Police Commission's request, Ms. Logan's works were printed
as a 33 page combined volume, and provided as a tool to its Blue
Ribbon Committee charged with creating a Report on Selection Criteria.
There are several other regular and frequent contributors to the
Included in this group are Dr. Arthur Jones and Dr. Robin Wiseman,
International Human Rights Law and Policy, worldwide experts in
Ms. Alisa Smith writes a regular column with issues concerning Los
Angeles "Youth" and Ms. Ann Marie Lardeau writes a companion column
Mr. Everett Littlefield makes frequent written contributions on
a variety of topics, and has represented LACP at any number of public
Ms. Valerie Shaw has begun to write a series of colorful articles
in her own unique style ...
LACP writers have reported on all the important issues, covered
most of the major events, and participated in as many community
activities as possible, following our mission to provide Angelenos
with a forum for the dissemination of information, sharing of ideas
and suggesting of ways the community can become engaged in making
our streets safer, to improve the quality of life.
A Turning Point
We'll have a new Chief shortly, and look forward to the selection
of an LAPD leader who will recognize the important contribution
the residents of Los Angeles will make to public safety in the coming
Over the past six months we've been privileged to come to know many
of the candidates personally, both from inside and outside the Department.
As a collective group they have a tremendous amount of law enforcement
experience, and each individual has a unique perspective on how
to get the job done.
But it's encouraging to note there's been a common mindset and goal
being expressed, too ... the desire to reform the LAPD, be supportive
of the rank and file, reduce crime and be inclusive of the community
when planning on how to move forward.
Only one of these capable men and women will become Chief. No matter
who is selected we know that the remaining candidates, most of who
will continue in top positions, will commit to rallying behind LAPD's
next leader. It's our hope they will be encouraged by the new Chief
to share their visions, plans and goals for LAPD openly and without
We hope the input, participation and ideas of the rank and file
and all Angelenos will be welcomed, too.
We've held back from reporting on the applicants' individual philosophies,
not wanting to promote the selection process as a political campaign,
but we know the majority of the candidates correctly see community
policing is as team effort.
And we know the Police Commission and Mayor Hahn see this inclusiveness
as required, too.
All over the world, successful community based policing programs
take into consideration the needs of everyone in the community,
as residents take an active role seeking public safety solutions.
They galvanize resources and learn skills that can make a difference,
to reduce crime and improve the quality of life.
We promise that we'll do our part through Los Angeles Community
Policing, providing assistance to the general public by encouraging
a robust and meaningful partnership between the residents of the
City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department, and other
It's a commitment to participate that I, for one, can't help.
I was raised to be of service ...
is your community forum, and your website. It belongs
to all the Los Angeles stakeholders -- to the residents,
business people, law enforcement officers and government officials
alike. Your comments will shape its contents and help define the
direction the LACP forum takes.
Let us know what you like and what you don't like about LACP.org.
Are there issues or events we don't cover? Things we can improve?
What are your ideas ... ?
Where do you think community policing should be going in LA? Where
would you like it to go? What are your goals with respect
to community policing? What roles do you want LACP to play in this?
Please take advantage of this opportunity to make a difference,
by letting us know how we can serve you even better ...
wish to include your perspective and some of your ideas, making
this article the beginning of a dialogue about what you think
about the issue, and a true LACP community effort.
We'll be adding to the responses all week long as replies come to
us. And next week we'll pick another topic (feel free to suggest
a future "Question of the Week).
Our practice is to protect the anonymity of any individual whose
opinion we use on the site, so unless you specifically tell us it's
OK to use your name, we won't.
But our preference is for participants to give us permission to
use their names, the sections of the city they're from, and / or
an appropriate title.
Let's see if together we can make a difference!
Yours in service,
LA Community Policing