As a part of a countywide Police and Human Relations Project, the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations wants to hear from residents on their interactions with the law enforcement. A public hearing will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee located at 10950 S. Central Avenue. The hearing is open to the public.
“For our commission, this is a critically important opportunity to hear from the Watts and other South LA communities because it was in these communities more than 50 years ago where a crisis in police-community relations erupted in widespread violence,” said Isabelle Gunning, President of the L.A. County Commission on Human Relations. “With these hearings, we hope community members will come forward to speak on the issues that we need to address today if we are to have strong trust in police-community relations.”
The public hearings on police and human relations were announced in 2016 in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, the 25th Anniversary of the 1992 Civil Unrest and the strained relations between law enforcement and local communities that precipitated these events.
The Commission wants to hear from the community about their personal experiences with law enforcement officers and agencies in Los Angeles County including the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and other police agencies. In addition, the public is also invited to give suggestions for increasing fairness and equity in policing, and for building and/or maintaining positive relations between police and communities.
“We hope the diverse communities of the 2nd Supervisorial District will recognize that we sincerely want to hear from them about their experiences with police, whether bad or good, so we can highlight the work that needs to be done, and the positives that need to be reinforced,” stated Robin Toma, Executive Director of the Commission. “As we approach the 25th anniversary of the Rodney King uprising, this is a chance to see what has changed from since those days, and what still stands in the way of effective 21st Century constitutional policing based in trust and accountability.”
In November, the LAPD released a 143-page report on biased policing based on the results of a community survey. The report found that just 48 percent of African Americans view LAPD officers as honest and trustworthy in comparison to 74 percent of white residents, 71 percent of Latinos and 68 percent of Asians. The same report found that 30 percent of black residents said officer’s use of force was only when necessary, compared to 62 percent of Asians, 59 percent of Latinos and 51 percent respondents. Inly half of the residents surveyed agreed that the police treated people of all races and ethnicities fairly.
“Los Angeles County is a huge area,” said Dr. Melina Abdullah, Vice-President of the Commission and Chair of its Ad-Hoc Committee on Policing and Human Relations. “When you talk about law enforcement agencies there are over 50 agencies in Los Angeles County. Aside from the LAPD and the sheriff’s department you have dozens of municipal police agencies including Inglewood, Culver City and Hawthorne. It is critically important that the public come out and tell us about their experiences so that the Commission and the County can have an accurate representation of how the community really feels—not how the police want us to believe the community feels about police-community relations.”
This hearing is a part of a series of hearings taking place throughout Los Angeles County. A final hearing is planned in order to hear from law enforcement representatives and subject matter experts. In addition to the hearings, the Commission is obtaining information about best practices and recommendations for fair policing from many sources. The results of these hearings and additional information will be combined in a report that can be used by community partners to strengthen local public safety systems.
Police and Human Relations Public Hearing
Saturday, February 25
Watts Labor Community Action Committee
10950 S. Central Avenue, Watts
Free and open to the public