Crime & Justice

San Fernando Valley church to discuss police-community relations in wake of past shootings

A protest outside police headquarters earlier this month focused on police shootings. Such protests have been common over the past few weeks in L.A.
A protest outside police headquarters earlier this month focused on police shootings. Such protests have been common over the past few weeks in L.A.
Frank Stoltze / KPCC

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Reseda may be a relatively sleepy neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, but a local reverend says that doesn't mean it's not part of the national conversation on community police relations. 

Reverend Dewayne Winrow of the Reseda Church of Christ has organized a town hall for Thursday evening, co-sponsored by the African-American Clergy of the San Fernando Valley. The aim is to discuss community policing with Los Angeles police officials in the wake of violence in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas over the past few weeks. 

Reseda, Winrow said, is not a high-crime area, but it has experienced officer-involved shootings. Data compiled as part of KPCC's Officer Involved project shows there were three police shootings in Reseda between 2010 and 2014, one of them fatal. Winrow said two members of his church's congregation have died in interactions with the police since the 1980s. 

"It’s real for all of us, it has affected our congregation,” Winrow said. “We’re just saying it’s time for the conversation to begin because until we experience a problem in a certain way, people tend not to engage in honest dialogue.”

LAPD Deputy Chief Bob Green said he's attending the discussion. 

"I hope to achieve collaboration towards fixing this issue. That means coming to together with the community and clearly not taking sides on it but identifying how we can move forward as a community to reduce violence overall," Green said. "As tragic as what we've seen happen in the last three weeks in the United States is, I see this as a tremendous opportunity."

Green has been a longtime proponent of community policing.

“I think that’s a good start, but I think we have to go further than that,” Winrow said. “There is a problem, there is a gap that needs to be addressed.”

Winrow feels that the church has a responsibility in leading the way to change. He hopes to fill all 600 seats of his church.

The town hall will be held on Thursday, July 21, at the Reseda Church of Christ at 6:30 p.m.