“POINTS OF VIEW” IN PASADENA

PASADENA, CA. “Offering an Olive Branch” was the headline in the Pasadena

Star News after the city’s first Day of Dialogue at All Saint’s Church on
Saturday, June 25. The Worldwide Church of God (WCG)’s Office of
Reconciliation Ministries helped spearhead this pioneering effort in tandem
with such community agencies as the Pasadena Police Department, the Western
Justice Center Foundation, the YWCA, Latino Forum, and the local NAACP.
The dialogue was convened at the request of Pasadena Police Chief Bernard
Melekian. A main purpose was to “establish trust between the community and
the police,” stated Najeeba Syeed-Miller, Executive Director of the Western
Justice Center, who provided trained facilitators to work with the nearly
200 people in attendance.

Power of Apology

“Eighty percent of complaints about police misconduct are about perceived
attitudes and misunderstandings,” Chief Melekian stated. “Mediation beats
investigation every time.” On June 25 the Chief continued the theme of
offering an apology for any police overreaction. “No officer leaves for duty
in the morning wanting to be involved in an incident that will scar his
reputation and cost his city millions of dollars in legal costs.” The first
Day of Dialogue allowed both sides to be heard. LA County Sheriff’s Deputy
Todd Deeds told attendees he shot an African-American man in February, 2000, after a car chase. The suspect fired five rounds before being wounded in the abdomen. “I knew he was trying to kill me…I was scared,” Deeds confessed to the attentive audience.

Then Durrell Brown, an African-American church elder from Glendora WCG
gave testimony of being “checked out” by police with drawn guns and no
explanation given. “Once I was pulled over on the freeway for Œpassing too
many cars’,” Durrell added as many ethnic participants nodded in agreement.
The frankness and exchange of views was refreshing. “I know many of my
white brothers and sisters do not see why these meetings are necessary. I
know people think we are simply harping on the past, but people must
understand where we are today–why African-American mothers worry doubly
when sons get their driver’s license,” commented Curtis May.

Youth and Police

These comments set up the second conference in the series relating to
Youth-Police issues, a festering issue in many large cities. At the October
29 event city youth had major roles in determining the issues to be
addressed. Police and young people worked hard together in recruiting
attendees.

“This was a rich experience of generations coming together,”said a
dispute resolution specialist. ” There was sharing and listening from the
heart as well as the head.” Police chose to attend in street clothes and
allowed youth to feel they could express their true feelings. “We want to be
treated more as young adults than little kids,” was a typical comment from
the young people.

Curtis May mused, “We may be creating a model that could be used in other
communities.”