Group Holds Forum on Community, Law Enforcement Trust in Stockton

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STOCKTON -- Trust -- it's something that can be lost in an instant, but takes years to regain.

Trust is the theme of the California Cities Violence Prevention Network's first ever forum, held in Stockton. Twenty law enforcement agencies and dozens of community groups from all over California came together to talk about the lack of trust between the public and law enforcement. They also talked about ways to improve.

"We're all in this together, and we need to change the trajectory of trust when it comes to law enforcement," Chief Eric Jones of the Stockton Police Department said.

This trust gap between the community and law enforcement did not just happen overnight. Many people say it started decades ago. Centuries even, during times of social injustice.

"We need to get into our communities of color, especially where there is the highest crime and the lowest trust in police," Chief Jones said. "So it comes down to us acknowledging and recognizing that, the deep rooted mistrust in these communities, talking about that, discussing why race relations are the way they are especially in the criminal justice system."

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 75 percent of male inmates in the state are African American or Latino. To get to the root of the problem, some suggest the public to put themselves in an officer's shoes, and vice versa.

"They go where nobody else wants to go, do what nobody else wants to do, and they do it at peril to themselves," Stockton City Manager Kurt Wilson said.

"Do I feel like I can go to the police? I think that is the baseline issue of trust. Are they a viable partner for me, if I have a problem?'" Vaughn Crandall said.

Crandall represents California Partnership for Safe Communities, a group out of Oakland, that offers solutions to lower violence in inner cities. He said patrol officers need to spend as much time building trust with members of the community, as much as they do responding to calls.

"If I have 20 stacked calls and they're all emergency calls, where do I fit in the trust building? I think there are ways to do it, but I think there is a path that we need to walk together," Crandall said.

The event was hosted by the California Cities Violence Prevention Network.