City Leaders Introduce Community Policing Program

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SACRAMENTO --

At a time when tension between communities and police is high, city leaders in Sacramento are trying to strengthen that relationship.

"We expect to see that crime goes down on one hand and public trust goes up on the other," Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said.

Thursday, Mayor Johnson, Police Chief Sam Somers and other city leaders unveiled a community policing initiative called "Officer Next Door."

"We as a community didn't want to sit by idly and wait for something to happen in our community, we want to be proactive," Johnson said.

The mayor said the program has been in the works since August of last year, after police in Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed Michael Brown.

"If you look at what's happening across the country, there's such a gulf of mistrust between our law enforcement and our communities of color in particular, and we want to be a leader in that in Sacramento," Johnson said.

Officer Next Door is based on four pillars: police training, diversity, engagement and accountability.

"We're gonna be able to make Sacramento the safest big city in California," Somers said.

In the newly approved budget, the city allocated $5.3 million for this initiative. The money will go towards hiring 15 new officers, sensitivity training and use of force training, diversity hiring, gang prevention and a pilot program for police body cameras.

"It's very important for us to right now make sure that we hold the police, the sheriff, law enforcement accountable," Sacramento NAACP President Stephen Webb said.

Webb has been involved in shaping this program, as have local activists such as Christina Arechiga. She is cautiously optimistic.

"I want to see some action. I've seen a lot of money being tossed around to the police department and I've seen a lot of words being said," Arechiga said.

Eleven people will be selected to form a "Community Police Commission" that will help monitor the program and report back to city council and the Police Department.

That new commission will be appointed within 120 days and within 180 days they're expected to have a progress report.

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