WEST SACRAMENTO — Violent clashes between police and civilians have many asking what can be done to build trust and bridge divide between law enforcement and the communities they serve. West Sacramento Police are already making those efforts through a favorite summer pastime.
At Riverbank School Saturday you could find Zumba, snow cones, and bouncy houses. At first glance it was a summer block party just like any other, well almost just like any other. This one is hosted by the West Sacramento Police Department.
“We want to emphasize the fact that we are part of this community, so many people look at us as a necessary evil when in fact we’re part of the solution, together, collectively,” West Sacramento Police Department Chief Tom McDonald said.
This was the second event of the Summer Night lights block parties, paid for largely out of the West Sacramento police department budget. These community connection events were planned long before the national civilian vs. police violence but Chief McDonald says recent tragedies are on his mind.
However, he believes dialogue is key to making sure West Sacramento residents and law enforcement have mutual respect.
“If you have an issue, then we have an issue, and if reasonable minds come together I think we can make accommodations appropriately,” said McDonald.
The Mayor of West Sacramento says he believes tonight’s event will help avoid violent clashes by building positive relationships through community policing.
“Part of that is just getting officers out of the vehicle and on bikes or walking neighborhoods again. But a lot of it is events like this and midnight basketball. Just giving a chance for folks to get to know each other outside of the context of a traffic stop or a violation,” said Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento