The Los Angeles Police Department Harbor Division has worked for years to include the community in its efforts.
Created in 1993, the Community-Police Advisory Board (C-PAB) has provided community members with a way to provide input to the local police and to take information from the police back into the community. Each of the 21 geographic areas throughout Los Angeles has its own C-PAB.
The Harbor Division’s C-PAB consists of nine civilian volunteer members (three from San Pedro, three from Harbor City, and three from Wilmington, plus the LAPD Harbor captain and the LAPD community relations captain at large). The public is encouraged to attend the meetings and share their concerns and ideas with law enforcement. The local C-PAB helped open the Harbor Division jail, hosted the first pro-police rally in the Harbor Area, secured a transport van, and created stronger relations between law enforcement and the San Pedro community.
Mona Sutton, the owner of the Omelette & Waffle Shop, is the co-captain of the local C-PAB and has volunteered with the Harbor Division for over 20 years. Sutton worked with Captain Joan McNamara, who blazed a trail in bringing new community partnership policing to the Harbor Area years ago.
“Attending meetings are a unique way to learn how LAPD works and to listen to the concerns of neighbors,” states Sutton. “There is an opportunity for activism and solutions. LAPD is listening when the community speaks up.”
LAPD Harbor Division also hosts other events to encourage community awareness, like Coffee with a Cop and gatherings for youth. The Harbor Division provides multiple programs, including Cadets for youth and a parenting class. Every neighborhood is assigned a senior lead officer (SLO) who focuses on that area and is accessible to the people living or working there. This is another layer of community policing.
James Baeza, a volunteer serving on the C-PAB, describes the meetings as a place where things actually get done.
“The community has the opportunity to advocate to the police in an open and friendly atmosphere,” states Baeza.
LAPD Harbor Division encourages the community to be more involved, especially since the police force has been down 800 officers since 2020. The meetings are candid and officers share obstacles they are experiencing, like when they get pulled into other geographic areas and situations that result in less patrol time on the streets.
“We listen to issues that the community is experiencing and problem solve on how to make it safer,” states Bill Manlove, sergeant in charge, community relations. “We work to do things better and have to be more creative since we have fewer resources.”
Sutton typically opens the meeting with introductions of those in attendance and the captain provides an update on the department. Each SLO will report crime stats and trends. They report on what is happening in their assigned areas and updates on solutions. Police provide tips to the community in an effort to reduce the number of victims of crimes as the officers cannot be everywhere. The public is encouraged to share any issues they might be having or witnessed. It is an open exchange between the police and the community and creates an opportunity for relationships.
“In these modern times, LAPD Harbor Division is legendary for community policing for the last 14 years,” says Sutton. “The more we help them, the more they can assist the community to be safer.”
Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. at alternating locations but are often held at the Harbor Community Police Station. The meeting streams on Facebook Live on the LAPD Harbor Division page. To be added to the meeting list, email email@example.com or call (310) 726-7920. spt