Working the home beat
Chief says cops could be more effective if they could afford to live in Pasadena
By André Coleman 11/13/2013
The first meeting of its kind between past presidents of the NAACP and high-ranking city officials, which both sides hope leads to more positive contacts between Pasadena police officers and residents, turned into a discussion on the economic and social pressures facing both average citizens and police.
Last Friday, former NAACP presidents Joe Brown, Charles “Buddy” Bereal and Del Yarbrough met with Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez, City Manager Michael Beck, Assistant City Manager Steve Mermell, Deputy Police Chief Darryl Qualls and police Lt. Tracey Ibarra to discuss issues affecting Northwest Pasadena. Brown, who led the nearly century-old organization for more than 12 years, said that many residents of color are concerned about police aggression in those neighborhoods.
Over the past four years, African-American and Latino teenagers have made up 90 percent of the 1,464 juvenile arrests during that time. Police records show that those figures are declining, with the number of black teens arrested falling from 159 in 2008 to 88 in 2012. Arrests of Latino teens fell from 167 in 2008 to 75 in 2012.
“We think that it would better serve everyone if the officers started walking the beat more and introducing themselves to people,” Brown told the Pasadena Weekly. “That helps to alleviate a lot of the distrust that people have for our police officers, especially in Northwest Pasadena.”
The department already has several programs in place to help facilitate meetings between officers and local residents. Sanchez told the Pasadena Weekly that some of his officers don’t get a chance to meet residents as much as he would like because they can’t afford to live in Pasadena due to the high price of housing. Because they don’t live in the area, those officers don’t spend as much time in Pasadena, Sanchez said.
“The whole idea is to engage the community,” Sanchez said. “The officers would get a chance to know community members and community members would get to know the police officers. But a lot of the officers can’t afford to live here, and this is what affords them the opportunity to get to know people.”
“This was just the first step,” Brown said. “We will meet again. There is power in dialogue and we are listening to each other.”