It was accepted and welcomed, therefore, it was well attended. But the Community Perception of Law Enforcement forum put together by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Operations Valley Bureau yesterday at the Greater Community Missionary Baptist Church turned out to be a disappointment to some audience members who did not have the opportunity to speak.
The panel- which was made up of the LAPD Operations Valley Bureau deputy chief, LAPD Inspector General, the president of the San Fernando Valley NAACP, and a religious leader from the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City- spoke for almost an hour responding to questions submitted on comment cards.
It was one of the ministers from the church, when he was unexpectedly given the microphone, who brought up the issue with the event format. He respectfully noted that many in the audience, including himself, thought this was suppose to be a dialogue. Instead, he said, it was merely the LAPD saying what they wanted the community to hear.
His comment was accepted and approved by a few applauses from the audience, rightfully so. From the stack of comment cards submitted, the moderator, KCAL 9 weatherman Josh Rubenstein, selected only about four questions that were mostly directed to Deputy Chief Robert Green touching upon subjects like Tasers, Proposition 47, community policing, and homelessness.
After the minister’s comments, there was a bit of back and forth dialogue between him and Chief Green, which can be seen in the video below.
There appeared to be some support for the police officers in the audience as well. Some people nodded with the chief’s comments and shook their heads whenever the chief was pressured to comment on race relations. Only one woman was able to speak, saying that as a person with mental illness, she appreciates the kind interactions she has had with police.
Near the end of the event, which was scheduled for two hours, the pastor of the church where the forum was held, Rev. Dudley D. Chatman, addressed the room, bringing some closure to the event.
“The officers that asked for this occasion did say it would be a dialogue. It has been a dialogue, but it is a written dialogue,” Chatman said.
“All I want is the policemen and our astute panel is to remind all of us that it was in Pacoima where Rodney King was beat up by the LAPD,” he said.
The reverend then proceeded to relate the efforts church ministers did to prevent riots from happening in the San Fernando Valley as they were happening in the city, highlighting that this event, although not what expected, is an effort to extinguish any flames that might erupt from community and police tensions today, just as they did in 1992.
Patricia Mallory, a missionary at Greater Community Church, hoped to express her concern of when she claims to have been racial profiled near her home in North Hills. She too was disappointed about the event.
“It would have been better if it was question-answer because that’s what I was under the impression that we were going to get the opportunity to ask questions,” she said. “They want to know why we don’t trust the police well this is one of the reasons: you can’t come to us and tell us what you want us to hear and think we are going to go for it. We are not those type of people.”
Rev. Georgia Booker from the nearby Calvary Baptist Church of Pacoima noted the people from the local neighborhood watch groups and neighborhodd councils attended possibly expecting the same.
“So I think it was kind of a disappointment to the group as a whole, she said.” But all the questions I believe were answered honestly.”