LACP.org
...
... 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 ...

........... ......

LA Community Policing
.
... six months old ...

Bill Murray - 9/07/02

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Los 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?

LACP remembers

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.

My Family

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 their cars.

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 buildings.

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 volunteer duty.

I also became a Community-Police Advisory Board member (C-PAB), and it has been my privilege to serve Hollenbeck in this capacity ever since.

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 public safety.

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 now.

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 ... "

I talked 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.

(NOTE: 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 proceed.

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 to participate.

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 LACP.org site.

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 website.

Included in this group are Dr. Arthur Jones and Dr. Robin Wiseman, International Human Rights Law and Policy, worldwide experts in community policing.

Ms. Alisa Smith writes a regular column with issues concerning Los Angeles "Youth" and Ms. Ann Marie Lardeau writes a companion column on "Seniors."

Mr. Everett Littlefield makes frequent written contributions on a variety of topics, and has represented LACP at any number of public meetings.

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 years.

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 fear.

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 government agencies.


It's a commitment to participate that I, for one, can't help.

I was raised to be of service ...

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This 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 ...

We 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,

Bill Murray
LA Community Policing


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Note: This list will not be shared with any other group, nor will it be used for purposes other than promoting Los Angeles Community Policing.

Yours in service,

Bill Murray

Thank you for supporting your LAPD Officers.




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