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By David Couch
Kern County Supervisor 

Couch's Corner - Victims deserve justice


Last updated 7/18/2020 at 9:28am | View PDF

In the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, folks started saying things like “defund the police.” In the aftermath of the gang-related killing of 11-year-old Makaliah Osomo and 12-year-old Elayna Saidee of Delano July 2, I hope those conversations are put to bed.

Improving the police force should always be on the table, certainly no police or sheriff’s department is perfect, but this recent media blitz on how cops are bad is a false narrative that is so much more harmful than helpful.

Those poor girls deserved the protection, and they definitely deserve the justice, that can only come from good police work. Finding the killer, breaking up the gangs, and creating a community where people feel safe are the work of local law enforcement.

Any false narrative that cops are bad, or that you can’t trust the police, or that you can’t report a crime, helps criminals. Incidents like the shooting of these two young girls are more likely when criminals feel emboldened. Criminals are more emboldened these days after the media coverage that makes it difficult for cops to do their job effectively and when laws are passed that allow criminals to commit crimes without appropriate levels of punishment.

Protests can be useful to help bring awareness to an injustice. But sound bites like “abolish police” and “defund police” hijack good initiatives to bring forth change and turn them into more extreme causes that alienate many people who want to see change but are not comfortable with abolishing police.

Communities throughout Kern County want to establish a better dialogue between the community and law enforcement. Earlier this year, before the pandemic made gatherings unsafe, we initiated a community forum in Lamont attempting to build trust and we had great initial results.

The Delano police chief, Robert Nevarez, similarly has conducted block parties, town halls, and “coffee with a cop” sessions to help build trust, and if there is a push for improved relations between a community and its police force, he’s your champion.

So we should listen when he says narratives that “cops are bad” need to be stopped. By the time this article publishes, he will have already conducted a town hall meeting, on July 15, to help bridge the gap between a community and its police force. These kinds of false narratives that “all cops are bad” embolden gang members, as do state laws that remove the tools that help law enforcement do their job better. State rules that release criminals with little or no consequence for their crimes are examples of this.

Other improvements to the system, in schools, in homes and in the community, separate from law enforcement, that build trust and a sense of belonging in the community help, too. Healthy communities and healthy families improve communities before law enforcement is even needed and should be developed in all communities in Kern County.

Nevarez says that, yes, there are a small percentage of police officers who shouldn’t be in this line of work, where people are held to a high standard. He also reasons that since police officers are selected from the human race, there will never be a perfect police force. Because of this reality, he welcomes changes like a national database that communities like Delano can use to hire the right recruits. He also believes it would be helpful to increase and improve training for police and there should always be a push to improve the police. Cries to “abolish” and “defund” police don’t appear logical, particularly in the days following the death of two innocent girls.

He takes that message personally, because it has been his life’s work to build relationships with communities and to take pride in his police force. And when gangs terrorize his community, he takes that personally, too. We should all work with him to improve public safety and quality of life in Kern County.

Feel free to drop us a line about this or any matter by emailing us at [email protected] or by phone at 661-868-3680. Have a safe week.


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