By Anne Artley, Contributing Writer
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Department will expand its Community Safety Partnership (CSP) bureau, a model that aims to restore trust in officers in neighborhoods where fear or dislike of the police is more common, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced July 27.
CSP officers are given a five-year assignment in one place so they can integrate into the community and develop relationships with the people they serve. The new bureau will bring the city’s 10 CSP sites under a single command and incorporate its training curriculum and other philosophies into overall LAPD operations.
Civil rights attorney and project co-founder Connie Rice described it as a “healthy strategy,” where the police work alongside other community partners such as teachers and counselors to heal trauma and violence.
“Delivering safety is not a cop’s job alone; it takes a village,” she said. “The goal is to earn trust through service in communities that have never felt safe, places with fewer grocery stores, banks, and credit unions.”
The CSP model promotes officers and residents working together to develop sports, recreation, and other programs designed to fit their neighborhood’s specific needs in order to reduce crime. It also aims to improve access to resources such as counseling, employment training and medical services.
“In hot zones, gang members would take over the lifeguard stands and dictate who could swim in public pools,” Rice said. “[CSP] is about retaking public spaces.”
CSP was introduced in 2011 for the Jordan Downs housing development in Watts. Since then, it has expanded to other public housing sites and beyond. The 10 areas include Nickerson Gardens, Gonzaque Village, San Fernando Gardens, Ramona Gardens, Harvard Park and South Park.
In 2019, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs conducted a study of the program in Nickerson Gardens and Ramona Gardens, located in Watts and Boyle Heights, respectively. Residents co-designed the surveys and evaluations, which included questions such as, “did CSP officers arrest your kids or help them recover from their mistakes?” Rice said.
“One of our fears was that the program was pushing crime out to neighboring areas, but the opposite was true,” she said. “It actually had a ‘halo effect.’ The community said, ‘the CSP officers help us, not hunt us.’”
The study found that the CSP program resulted in a lower number of arrests and incidents of police force used against community members. Residents reported feeling safer and the program was estimated to have prevented around 220 violent crimes over a five-year period.
“For the first time, we saw Latino families feeling safe enough to sit on their front steps,” Rice said. “They had no representation in Watts before. Police need to change the internal dynamics of a community.”
Deputy Chief Emada Tingirides will lead the bureau, and costs are to stay within LAPD’s budget without any added expenses.
“It is the honor and privilege of my professional life to accept this role,” Tingirides said in a press release issued by the mayor’s office. “I have devoted my career to building relationships and engaging the community where I grew up. I have watched our Community Safety Partnerships flourish with lowering crime while lifting public trust.”
The expansion of the model builds on LAPD’s efforts to move away from force tactics and eliminate bias in policing. The mayor and City Council are working to invest $250 million in youth development programs in communities of color, while cutting $150 from the police budget.
City Councilman Joe Buscaino, a former LAPD officer, expressed the need for caution in reducing police operations.
“Any dismantling will most affect those already underserved neighborhoods that have to deal with crime and gang activity on a regular basis,” he said at a press conference July 27 announcing the program’s expansion. “There are dangerous people operating on our streets. Those people have not suddenly gone away.”
“Historically most of my colleagues have been very, very supportive of the Community Safety Partnership, so I am happy that we are all celebrating the expansion. … But CSP cops cost more than regular patrol officers, so it is tough to both defund and expand.”