Anaheim Police Tout Improvements in Community Relations

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An Anaheim police car. (Photo credit: unknown)

The Anaheim Police Department has hired 13 officers and focused on building ties with the community since a downtown riot last year revealed the broken relationship between Latinos and city government, according to a report presented to the City Council Tuesday night.

The report is intended to provide an update on the Police Department's improvements since the summer of 2012, when more than 1,000 demonstrators, most Latino, confronted officers after fatal police shootings of two young men.

Newly hired officers are focused on “community policing, gang enforcement and youth services,” the report states.

Critics of the police department say officers disrespect most youth in Latino working-class neighborhoods by assuming they all are gang members, thus undermining a fragile trust with a community that has historically suffered at the hands of police.

Many residents have demanded a civilian police oversight panel as the means to restore trust with the neighborhoods. Mayor Tom Tait has pushed for such a board, but his colleagues have so far resisted efforts to establish one.

The report presented Tuesday lists a number of operational enhancements to address the plight of these neighborhoods. They include:

  • Mandatory audio recording of uniformed police officers. Video recording is in the testing phases.
  • Modifying vehicles to better prevent dogs from accidentally escaping. Before last summer's riot, a police dog was released into a crowd of protesters and overturned a baby stroller. The image was caught on video and shown in news broadcasts.
  • Increased foot patrols in neighborhoods, as requested by residents.
  • Continued review of transferring police officers from some areas to others. Some residents have been angered by the presence of officers in neighborhoods where they have been involved in fatal shootings.
  • Development of a neighborhood advisory board. The panel will include residents, who will meet monthly with the police chief to discuss community concerns and building trust.
  • The establishment of an anonymous complaint portal on the Police Department website.
  • Compilation of a brochure in coordination with the American Civil Liberties Union that gives residents an understanding of “what members of the public should expect, and what is expected of them during a contact with an officer.”
  • Assistance in setting up neighborhood watch programs.
  • Making Cops 4 Kids, a police program for youth, mobile and accessible to children of Anna Drive and Guinida Lane, two neighborhoods hit particularly hard by fatal shootings and gang activity.
  • Implementing ”Coffee with a Cop” in English and Spanish so residents and police officers can interact in informal settings.
  • Referring children traumatized by fatal shootings to programs that could ease the psychological impacts.
  • Expanding the Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership program, a community-based initiative that involves teachers, police, case managers and others to prevent at-risk youth from joining gangs.
  • More narrowly defining gang injunctions to address only gang members named in the civil restraining order.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek

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