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Thoughts on Public Safety

The mistrust in the police took decades to get to where it is today. The long-standing police misconduct issues rooted in the lack of trust and respect has caused a rift between the law enforcement and the community.

I, LaMar Willis, recognize that it's going to take several years to build and work on this relationship, especially as we as a community, reckon with the history of policing in our under-served cities.

Although my 2021 mayoral election run for Compton mayor is over, the problems facing all under-served communities are as important and urgent as ever. Public safety was the number one issue brought up by every one of the hundreds and hundreds of Compton residents I talked to during my campaign. Everyone in many south central Los Angeles cities, and in particular in Compton, are concerned about the unending stream of gun violence and fatal shootings every week. The entire community is saddened and angered by the tragic and senseless deaths of teenagers whose lives were lost due to gun violence.The murder of over half a dozen teenagers during last 6-7 months has been devastating for the families, friends and the community. As a father, my heart aches, and I offer my sincere condolences to all families who lost their loved ones in the recent months. It is clear that we as one connected community must do better to protect our children.

During my campaign, my team of advisors and I developed a number of ideas which we compiled under "NEIGHBORHOOD POLICING INITIATIVE" (NPI) program. This concept is a sincere attempt to bring the law enforcement deputies and the residents together to solve problems, to work for safe streets and safe parks and businesses and safe homes and to build trust block by block.

I am sharing my policy ideas in form of bullet points here on my new platform as a public service. I sincerely hope that both the incoming city leadership, the local sheriff organization and the concerned community leaders will make a note of these ideas.

Here are some thoughts for consideration...

Neighborhood Policing Initiative

Any city experiencing tensions between its residents and police force may consider creating a "SOCIAL SERVICES DESK" with its own oversight budget to assist with the "NEIGHBORHOOD POLICING INITIATIVE" program in support of the law enforcement and the community to make sure that there's no violence in the districts and neighborhoods.

The primary goal of the "NEIGHBORHOOD POLICING INITIATIVE" program is to get the law enforcement deputies to work directly together as a team with the community, so that the community and the deputies embrace and support each other.

The best way to reduce crime is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To achieve that, any city may facilitate each district to set up its own committee of NEIGHBORHOOD POLICING INITIATIVE (NPI).

The NPI COMMITTEEs will take an active role in the oversight of policing activities in their respective districts, and perform neighborhood watch duties while staying in constant contact with the coordinating officers of the local Sheriff's Station at all times, and assist the sheriff deputies with all "mental health cirisis" calls.

The NPI COMMITTEEs meet up once every month at the NPI COUNCIL level to review the progress in each district.

How Could A Well Organized Neighborhood Policing Initiative (NPI) Work For Under-Served Communities Which Deal With Relentless Gun Violence?

Here are a few concept bullet points:

  • Each district of the effected city may consider forming its own NPI commitee on voluntary basis consisting of concerned citizens of respective district.

  • The NPI Council may consist of one NPI Committee member representing each neighborhood.

  • This may be developed as the next stage evolution of an existing BLOCK CLUB program in order to:

o maintain quiet and peace,

o assist in resolving neighbor disputes,

o provide a strong deterrent to gangs, guns & drugs,

o be one Voice to the law enforcement department of the city and its elected officials.

  • The NPI committee members may preferably be selected from a pool of volunteers who could serve on the committee for a predetermined time period (may be for 6 months). To assure continuity, half of the member body of the NPI committee may be replaced with new members every 3 months on a rotating basis.

  • The NPI committee may include individuals representing different generations and backgrounds. At least one individual on the district committee may be someone who is ...

  • someone directly involved in some capacity with local schools (teacher, coach, alumni),

  • someone involved with faith organizations , and

  • someone who may have been a "former" gang member and one parent.

  • a community activist who is familiar with the area and the community.

  • The program may be set up in such a way that the NPI committee members stay in touch with each other and with the district's respective coordinating officers at all times. The real-time communications may be facilitated through city provided modern technology and communication tools.

  • NPI Committee members may assist whenever possible the law enforcement deputies with all "mental health cirisis" calls.

  • Besides once a month in person meeting at a space provided by the city, a community recreation center, a local church, a resident’s home or back yard, NPI committee may have regular virtual town hall meetings once a month where the district residents may

  • discuss the progress,

  • share their observations and concerns, and

  • be actively involved with crime prevention in their district.

Respective district's coordinating officer may partake in the monthly in person gatherings and/or virtual town hall meetings.

  • Instead of working from one radio assignment to the next, coordinating officers for each district may remain in direct contact with the NPI committee.

  • The officers may work together with residents to resolve problematic non-emergencies like speeding cars or a loud neighbor.

  • NPI committee members may be scheduled to regularly ride in police vehicles and walk the streets with the officers and introduce them to the residents.

  • The officers may also build personal relationships with businesses. Accompanied with NPI committee members, the officers may get out of their cars and regularly go into the barbershops, beauty salons, restaurants, churches and into the living rooms of the neighborhoods where they may be assigned to provide interactive "community policing" service. They may also hand out business cards and encourage people to email them.

  • The city may consider providing social worker assistance to the The NPI district committees in order to deal with people who have mental health issues.

  • The NPI Council may be required to present an annual progress report to Compton City Council.

I believe that if we all work together on this all-hands-on-deck citywide program, we can change the ways in which the deputies approach their work and rebuild trust in the community towards police work.

Please share with us your ideas and thoughts so that we start moving towards building a safe community soon.

LaMar Willis

June 1st , 2021


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