I went because these are my neighbors and they live across the street from Council member Rikke Van Johnson. To lose a loved one in this manner is difficult for all especially the family. For them we owe our thoughts and prayers that God may comfort them and that something will be done to help prevent future incidents.
So interim police chief Jarrod Burguan stood before the crowd to assure and calm the community and to gather information that might lead to the capture of those responsible for this violence. The meeting was well attended by many from outside the community who do not understand the long history between the police and Westside residents.
That history was soon brought before the group after the chief introduced his leadership team of police managers who were all White men and no one of color or female. When asked about diversity, he responded this was who was available and they do have a diverse department.
My question is why would one be so insensitive to a community with a long history of racial conflict with the police to call a meeting on the Westside and not bring at least one Black and/or Latino officer? The brother who raised the question was correct in raising the issue. I was thinking the same thing and would have voiced my concern, especially when Rich Lawhead was one of those introduced, but due to my condition I could not.
I remember Lawhead was president of the Police Officers Association when they sold t-shirts that stated San Bernardino was the “187” (murder) Capital and he endorsed Joseph Turner, an anti-immigration activist for City Clerk.
So I thought to myself now you want Blacks and Latinos to continue to pay you guys over $100,000 a year and you cannot find anyone of color to put on your staff or to promote into leadership positions. It was at a meeting in 2012 at Community Hospital called by Rev. Bronica Martindale that Carolyn Tillman was quoted as saying; “what we have here is a lot of new nice teeth but little follow through.” Mr. Keith Kilmer was then chief standing before the community promising a change to a community hoping for change. It was Chief Mike Bildt who promised more sensitivity training to the community needs in 2008 and the need for a more diverse staff. In 1995 it was Chief Wayne Harp that stood before the community to speak to the police action of selling t-shirts that offended the Black and Latino communities.
As we walked out the meeting I heard one African-American gentleman comment to School Board member Margaret Hill, and I paraphrase, I came out to see what would happen but it is the same old thing.
I cited this history because Chief Burguan said we live in a world that functions on facts and these past incidents are factual history.
I want us to move forward with a more diverse police staff from top to bottom so when a meeting is called, the staff is diverse regardless of the time of day or night. I believe it’s possible.
Let me suggest we start a campaign to “Know Your City.” I am willing to meet with the leadership of the city to explain what I am suggesting. Former SB Council member Jess Flores and I began a joint venture campaign between the city and school district back when I was on the school board to tackle the gang and drug problem. It worked then and I believe the same ideas can work today.
After the meeting I said to myself the more things change the more they stay the same but I also thought A CHANGE MUST COME.