Strengthening relationships between our communities of color and law enforcement

On Saturday, January 21, SVCF launched the “Strengthening Relations between Communities of Color and Law Enforcement Initiative” in San Jose. Through the use of community engagement, communications and data and analytics, this effort seeks to build better relationships between law enforcement and people of color in San Jose.

The launch event, held at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose, was hosted by Walter Katz, the Independent Police Auditor for the City of San Jose, and funded by SVCF in partnership with the San Francisco 49ers.

Sponsors who attended the six-hour forum included San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco, Police Chief Eddy Garcia, San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York and 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith. A crowd of and more than 160 residents, community activists and nonprofit organization representatives discussed challenges and proposed solutions that will build a stronger and safer San Jose. Facilitators from Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center led breakout sessions, and SVCF’s CEO and President, Emmett Carson gave closing remarks. We are grateful to all those who participated for their candid thoughts and openness to dialogue.

As discussions on Jan. 21 illustrated, the diversity of our valley is an extraordinary asset. However, creating a community that is inclusive and allows for all members to participate equally is still work in progress. At SVCF we believe that proactive, intentional communication between the community and law enforcement – based on transparent and actionable data – is an essential part of this work.

We know that the City of San José does not have the deeply entrenched history of bad police/community relationships that some American cities have.  But we still have work to do to increase community trust in law enforcement. We want to ensure that through this work we build a community that allows people to feel heard, respected, secure, and empowered in their communities. Ultimately, we need increased transparency and accountability from law enforcement, as well as decreased violence in our neighborhoods.

Finding timely and effective solutions won’t be simple. But we are committed to strengthening our communities by taking actions to improve race relations and law enforcement.

Over an 18-month period, these efforts will include:

  • Pursuing data and feedback that allow police to better engage with residents and improve race relations and policing in our community
  • Deepening and broadening partnerships with community-based organizations to provide better communications and programming
  • Supporting the ability of city staff and police to proactively, directly and constructively engage with residents in specific neighborhoods through avenues outside of law enforcement

If you’d like to get involved in the issues of strengthening relations between communities of color and law enforcement, here are some local organizations SVCF is working with in this initiative:

PACT

Silicon Valley De-Bug

San Jose’s Office of the Independent Police Auditor