The shooting deaths earlier this month of two African American men in Minnesota and Louisiana and the killing of cops in Dallas and Baton Rouge has left the country reeling. Tensions have been running especially high here in Southern California.
On this program, we've heard from cops talking about how the public doesn't understand how difficult it is for them to do their jobs. We've heard from activists calling for the resignation of LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
Now, a look to another community activist who believes now more than ever, it's important to show support for law enforcement.
Jerry Hoffman is co-chair of the community police advisory board for the LAPD's Northeast division. Ruben Arellano, Sergeant at the Northeast division, also joined the show to discuss.
The basic understanding is that we the public pay taxes and part of those taxes support law enforcement. And that cops are paid to protect the public. Beyond that... nothing about this relationship is really defined. What do you think this relationship SHOULD look like?
Sgt. Arellano: "The community advisory board, they get a better perception as to what we do, they have a closer contact with us. And we want to pass that word out that our job is to go out and protect the community, serve the public and provide a service where they feel safe within their community. That's our goal. Our goal is to reach out to the public and show them what we can do, how we can work together and make it a better safer place, so that they're comfortable in their neighborhoods."
I can only imagine how much of a strain current events have put on this relationship.When things like the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and when cops were killed in Dallas and Baton Rouge - how did that affect you and the relationship between cops and community as you seen it?
Jerry Hoffman: "My first response was...I was practically speechless because it just seems unprecedented that the level of this happening around the country right now and it does create a lot of anxiety and fear in all of our neighborhoods about how people start thinking about law enforcement, especially when you see everything happening on the news and social media and I think it's really important for people to remember that most of the time when the video cameras come on, you're seeing what happens in the middle and the end of the incident but you're not seeing the beginning of how it all began and I think we're missing the real story. So, when we see these videos, a lot of people have reactions to what they're seeing but they're not getting the whole story."
Sgt. Arellano: "One of the things that we do, we hold what we call a community citizen's academy and it's a 10 week program where people come for three hours a night, one night a week and they get an opportunity to go through and see the different aspects of police work...so it gives them a better perspective. Those are the important things. I wish more people would come and try things like that before they go out and get an opinion without really understanding the big picture."
What do you say to those who have reservations toward police officers and don't support the community gestures of support?
Jerry Hoffman: "Well I would say, we're a pro-police group and there's groups out there that are more on the borderline or might be negative towards the police and that's perfectly okay, too because it creates a dialogue and it's important to know what the concerns are from those in the community that feel that they've been picked on or victimized in any of those matters. But, there are ways for people to reach out to the police and talk and share these concerns..."
To hear the full interview, click the blue play button above.