Chief Kilmer reaches out to one of city’s most challenged populations
San Bernardino Police Chief Keith Kilmer is making good on promises to break down barriers and improve community relations in the city’s largely Black and Latino populated Westside.
Coming off a successful 6-week run last fall, the department’s Community Police Academy is set to launch a second round of one night a week classes at San Bernardino Community Hospital in the Henderson Auditorium starting January 26, 2010, at 6:30 PM.
There is no cost to attend and there is ample parking.
Kilmer called the first academy of 55 participants a success that begged for even greater exposure.
“The first academy was a unique experience. There were people from different parts of the city, but not so much the Westside,” he said.
Relations between police and Westside residents have been strained for years. Kilmer said as the city’s new police chief bringing the academy to the Westside is part of his long range commitment to open the department’s doors. “I think for a long time the police department had not been focusing on outreach in the community.
We had some incidents on the Westside that led to those strained relations. The way that I know how to solve problems and open up communications is to go out and talk with people, listen and educate. We’ve been working hard to get the word out. We want to fill those classes.”
Kilmer called the academy concept a kind of ‘bread and butter for getting face time’ with the community.
“Transparency is a big part of my agenda so we’re doing everything we can to show positive visibility in the community to include working with neighborhood associations, local clergy, and African-American and Latino citizen advisory groups,” said Kilmer.
He said the first academy was a positive education for police and participants alike.
“At the very end everybody wanted more classes. They wanted to know more about police work. It was a good opportunity for our officers to see the public in a different setting other than at a crime scene, writing a ticket or when someone has been the victim of a burglary.”
Police department training coordinator, Lisa Patnode says the classes are interactive and fun. The sessions range from community oriented policing and problem solving to gang enforcement, graffiti laws and citizen volunteer and career opportunities.
“Our goal is community engagement. We want to hear the people’s questions and concerns. We want them to become more comfortable talking to police officers and working with the police department,” she said.
“There is a feeling of intimidation when you see an officer in a uniform with a gun. But they are in the communi ty to protect and serve. An officer is just a person like you or I. These sessions we hope will help change some of the negative perceptions out there.” said Patnode.
Seating is limited. RSVP at (909)388-4846 or register online at note: firstname.lastname@example.org.