More than 100 people marched to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division on July 17 in support of officers in the wake of recent violence involving police around the country.
The march was organized by the Cochran Avenue Baptist Church, on Cochran Avenue between San Vicente and Pico Boulevards. The march was planned after a gunman shot and killed five police officers in Dallas on July 7 and as a response to recent fatal shootings of African American men by police in Minnesota and Louisiana, pastor Charles Johnson said. The march was on the same day as a shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in which a gunman shot and killed three law enforcement officers.
“Our goal is to say to the police and the people that we want peace,” Johnson said. “We believe ‘prayer ends aggression, chaos and evil’ (for which the acronym is PEACE). Some of the things we have witnessed recently are outright evil.”
Prior to the march, Wilshire Division senior lead officer Adam Green attended services at the church and met with parishioners. He accompanied marchers on the seven-block walk to the police station at 4861 Venice Blvd. and participated in a brief prayer ceremony with fellow officers and the congregation. Green said the show of support for law enforcement was moving.
“It really meant a lot,” Green said. “We are in some terrible times, and [the end] has to start somewhere. One of the supervisors was a little teary-eyed. They met with the congregation in the lobby and it really meant a lot to the officers who were there.”
Green said he met Johnson approximately one year ago and has attended events at the church to inform members about police youth programs. He helped plan the march with Johnson, who said it is important to show local police officers that they are appreciated.
“We decided, let’s just walk for peace. We wanted to show them that we truly appreciate them and support them,” Johnson added. “They are husbands and wives who just want to go home at the end of their shifts. What we are seeing the last few weeks is heart wrenching. As we walked through the community, people saw us and joined the walk.”
Johnson said he is organizing a local summit among clergy members of different faiths in the Wilshire Division. The event, “Community Conversation Concerning Wilshire: The People+The Police=Peace,” will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cochran Avenue Baptist Church, 1304 S. Cochran Ave.
“We have decided to take it to the next level,” Johnson added. “Everybody in the community is invited. We are going to push this concept that prayer ends aggression, chaos and evil. We realize there is so much going on but we have to deal with it in our community. It started with an excellent dialogue and we are going to build on that.”
Following the murders of police officers in Baton Rouge on July 17, the LAPD, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Beverly Hills Police Department implemented procedures to protect personnel. The sheriff’s department assigned two deputies to each patrol vehicle.
“We have had no threats, but we put out two-person cars at night. It is for extra safety. It gives them an extra set of eyes and ears,” said Capt. Holly Perez, commanding officer of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station. “The community here is very supportive, but we felt it is better to be safe than sorry.”
The LAPD, which has a permanent policy of always having two officers per patrol vehicle, also implemented changes in response to the incident in Louisiana. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck dispatched officers from the Metropolitan Division to police divisions throughout the city to assist patrol officers. The chief also increased the number of police helicopters flying, and ordered dispatchers to conduct additional screening of 911 calls to ensure officers are responding to calls with sufficient information and resources. Additional measures to ensure officer safety were taken but not publicly announced.
“The police officers who have sworn an oath to protect and to serve did so of their own volition out of their sense of honor and duty to protect their fellow citizens,” Beck said. “The duties of a police officer are not always easy and in many instances [they] face the most extreme criticism due to the very nature of their obligations. Even in the wake of such horrific attacks on their fellow brother and sister officers across this nation, Los Angeles police officers have never hesitated to protect our city and keep us safe. Communication is the key and the reprehensible violence and unspeakable crimes that we have seen in Dallas and Baton Rouge will only serve to divide rather than unite us all.”
Lt. Lincoln Hoshino, of the Beverly Hills Police Department, said measures to increase safety included “doubling-up” officers in patrol vehicles. He did not elaborate, as police do not want to disclose tactics that could make officers vulnerable, he said.
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