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Lakewood Adopts ‘Community Review’ of Sheriff’s Use of Force Policies

 

Members of the Lakewood community participate in a discussion related to the community review of sheriff’s policies.

BY TAMMYE MCDUFF • July 15, 2020

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd on May 25th and the civil unrest that has followed, the discussion of racial equality and community / law enforcement relations has been a first and foremost discussion with the Lakewood City Council.

On June 23rd the City Council unanimously approved the signing of a nationwide pledge to have a community review of the ’use of force’ policies carried out in Lakewood by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Council members and city staff are now in the process of reviewing best practices for how to carry out that community review, with the goal of engaging the community in that review beginning in August.

The City Council also approved the creation of a Community dialogue that would give all Lakewood residents the opportunity to be heard on the issues of racial equity and the community-law enforcement relations, with the goal of making life in Lakewood better and safer for everyone. The Council decided to start that process with the creation of an Interfaith council of religious leaders in Lakewood to help facilitate the dialogue.

The first meeting of the Interfaith Council was held July 2nd via teleconference with 13 religious community leaders, including African American clergy members from Lakewood. Council members and staff are in the process of reviewing best practice for how to carry out the broader community dialogue.

Initial input from the community at council meetings held on June 9th and June 23rd saw the attendance of 50 residents and many spoke about the issues of racial equity and law enforcement relations. The majority of those residents were African American residents, who all spoke highly of Lakewood as a community but recounted personal stories of racial discrimination.

One longtime resident was a retired L.A. Deputy Sheriff who served at the Lakewood sheriff’s Station. He described times when he had been stopped by Sheriffs personnel while walking in Lakewood dressed as a civilian, because calls had been made about ‘ a suspicious black man walking in the neighborhood’. Another resident described her pain at having to tell her son never to walk to shopping areas with a group of other boys, because of her fear that they would be looked upon suspiciously.

“We have to start the process of our community dialogue and action plan in Lakewood,” said Mayor Rogers, ”and we look forward to continuing to report back to residents and letting them know how they can get involved.”

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