L.B. Police Strengthen Bond with Citizens

Training officer Joe Robinson talks about change, in this case, changing the relationship between the Long Beach Police Department and the city's residents. Chief Mark Dunston vowed to create a better relationship when he took over as chief. "And get out there and actually work with the community and get with the citizens that are gonna be working in citizens groups with the police department to identify the problems in the city and get working towards the goals of eliminating some of the problems,"  Dunston says.  The chief says both his officers and the community have to get over the "cops versus residents" attitude. "I keep reminding our officers that we're citizens first and we're police by profession and you can never be apart from the community, you've got to be a part of the community or you're never gonna get the problems solved in your area."

Citizens like Flo Jones says it seems like officers don't have time for the people they are sworn to serve and protect. "I don't think the police have been very supportive of the citizens of Long Beach. They don't have time. I don't know if it's because they're short of help or if they're busy doin' other things but we just need, I think police need training," she says.

Training officer Robinson says police need to be more responsive to and interact with citizens. Robinson says, "If people have fear in Long Beach, if there's crime, businesses aren't going to locate there, people won't wanna have their kids go to school there and the police problem is really everybody's problem." It's a problem Robinson says can be better solved with everyone in the community working together.

Marcia Hill