I had a conversation with Chief Luna, who told me they still have monthly Police Advisory Committees (PACs) for each Division. This is entirely false. What we have today is a monthly spin session given by the Commanders or their Lieutenants to a silent audience of neighbors or interested parties. We are told what is going on, according to their stories. We are told how great the Division is working, according to their opinion. We are told to mind our Ps and Qs and be good little neighbors.
When we finally at the end of each speech-session get to ask questions, the answers are invariably “We will get back to you”, which, of course, never happens.
When confronted by actual statistics and incidents, we are told we don’t have the “full picture”. When questioning the purpose or even the existence of policing policies, we are summarily ignored.
This is not the Police Department I want.
In the past, we had engaging Police Advisory Committees. I had the privilege of serving as President of both the South Division and the East Division. Those were incredible days, and our participation in those monthly committees inform our Police and directed our Police to help solve the problems in our City.
Instead of making a speech, the Commanders or Watch Commanders attended to listen. Each Council District was represented by a deputation from the neighborhood associations. The City Council member approved the members to make sure the neighborhoods were equally represented.
Every month we would sit around a large conference table in the South Division or in the East Division, (which at that time was open to the public, not barricaded against our citizens with 10 high iron fencing).
We would do a “Round Robin”, and every representative would give the Commander their report from their area. Where were the “hot spots” where was a problem developing, what was going on in the alley between such and such streets, etc? We served as the Eyes and Ears of the Police Department.
We were equal members in the community of police security for the City. Our information directed the Commanders to put officers where they were needed, and not just generally spread across the Division. It is a large landmass, A Division, and securing an entire region takes far to many officers than we had or have. Directed engagement was the key to reducing crime and securing the safety of our people.
We didn’t need a report back from the Commanders, as we all saw the results in their daily operations. We saw our neighborhoods being restored to safety, and our problems systematically being addressed.
It is time to restore the Police Advisory Committees, and let the Police do the listening again.
Do this for the benefit of everyone, the police included.