Some 250 civilian volunteers and police officers met at the historic Hollywood Museum, with its four floors of film costumes and movie memorabilia, November 1 for the organization's 21st annual summit. The watchword of the day was to prepare CPAB's citizen volunteer members for more action in our communities.
Participants were welcomed by Commander Matt Blake, Assistant to the Director, Office of Operations. "There are three issues we want to make central in the coming year," he said. "We want to develop strong leadership in the CPAB chapters, improve CPAB's communication skills, and work on teamwork - we don't want to see only 10% of the members active; a good team finds out what everyone can contribute."
He then turned the chair for the day over to Josh Rubenstein, Chief Meteorologist for CBS 2 & KCAL 9 and Co-chair of the North Hollywood CPAB chapter. Paula Madison, Vice President of the Los Angeles Police Commission, gave the conference greetings, saying how important it was to have a community partnership with the police department.
The first talk of the day was by Deputy Chief Mike Downing, Commander of the department's Counter Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau. It was supposed to be on leadership, and he chose to interpret that very broadly, tying it to his own area of expertise. The Islamic State, he said, has reintroduced slavery, and beheadings of those with different religious beliefs. They are calling on their sympathizers in Europe and America to carry out similar attacks. "These ideas will capture the imagination of some kids without direction here and we will see some terrorist actions in Los Angeles."
Some of the thousands of young people, from the U.S. and Europe, who have gone to join ISIS will also come back, "so we will see some individual attacks, maybe even a beheading as we saw in Oklahoma and by the man with the hatchet in New York." Much will depend, he said, "on the environment we create so those ideas don't take root in our community. We want to tell them: You are not coming here - you are not going to get our kids"
The police department, he said, is mostly about values: service, humanity. "Sometimes we have to use force, sometimes lethal force. But more often we work through education, and we need you to help us do that."
Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger led a lively discussion on effective communication, drawing out ideas from members of the audience. People agreed that you have to know what you are talking about, you need to listen others, not just talk at them, be brief, clear, and truthful. And you should figure out how to make your message actionable.
He asked the audience what they thought the main community problems are that CPAB should reach out to people to try to improve. The list was pretty long:
Homelessness, illegal dumping, traffic, crime, emergency preparedness, prostitution, illegal vending, and graffiti.
There was a lot of discussion of the need to do more with social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. "Every CPAB member should have a Twitter account," Paysinger urged.
Next came a talk on team building by Chief Police Psychologist Kevin Jablonski. He advocated using a method called Appreciative Inquiry. When things go wrong, he said, "the natural tendency is to blame someone, usually not ourselves. The work group becomes defensive. People don't want to be humiliated and soon they don't want to participate. We should look at what works, not what doesn't. Frame things positively: We're not faced with a problem, we're faced with a challenge."
He asked the audience to recall this year's peak experience in their CPAB chapter, what they felt good about. One chapter has sent out 100,000 informational emails that resulted in a dramatic reduction in auto burglaries. Another had organized training of 3,000 people in emergency preparedness. A third fed 600 families at Christmas and given a toy to each of their children. Southwest had gotten surveillance cameras installed in Baldwin Village, which resulted in a number of criminal prosecutions, had a large active Teen CPAB auxiliary that was contacting owners about blight conditions, and the chapter was publishing a monthly email Blight and Homeless report targeting blight properties and informing homeless support agencies of the locations of more than 100 homeless persons.
The day closed with greetings by Police Chief Charlie Beck. "No police department is capable of molding a city without help," he said. Key here is "a community-police partnership." The effectiveness of a police department, he insisted, "is not absence of crime. It is the presence of justice."