SOUTH PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Tension between police and the public it serves is an issue in Southern California and nationwide. The Los Angeles Police Department has found a way to address it and build trust within the community.
When the department launched its Community Safety Partnership Bureau in 2018, officers literally took to the streets and walked the neighborhood to meet and get to know its residents. But there was real skepticism.
South Park resident Marilyn Green was among the hesitant group but about six months later, she ended up building a friendship with Senior Lead Officer Lyndon Barber.
"With Ms. Green kind of leading the way and once we built our connection, and everyone pretty much seeing it, then it did open up to everyone else in the community," Barber said.
Deputy Chief Emada Tingirides was recently promoted to run the bureau, also known CSP, but the idea isn't new to the department.
Tingirides first helped implement the community policing model a decade ago in four public housing projects, from Boyle Heights to Watts.
"The primary premise is to address the crime in our communities with a public health lens and in order to do that, we have to be able to partner with our community, partner with our non-profit organizations, work alongside each other to make the change," she said.
In South Park, CSP officers partner with the non-profit Gryd Foundation, which creates programming to curb gang violence and build safer streets. Now, even those formerly affiliated with gangs have joined the effort, becoming part of the solution.
"We love it. It's a different kind of policing," said Darrell Gray.
"They have town hall meetings and stuff like that about what's going on in the community, what can they do and how to better those things. Those things really help when somebody is listening to you," said resident Eddie Harris.
A March 2020 study from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs found community safety partnership policing improves resident perceptions of safety, builds trust, helps reduce dangerous conditions and allows residents to gather together and enjoy public spaces.
The study also found it not only reduces crime and gang violence, but also shows promise in preventing homelessness.
"And what the study said was although crime decreased, the most important component of the program was that trust increased and that meant we have relationships and transparency," Tingirides said.
Officer Barber said he thinks the program is working and should be replicated.