Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

In Compton, Rising Movement Looks to Propel a City Forward

"There's a sense of change. There's a sense of, 'We can rise.'"

A local pastor and a Compton deputy are showing how a little paint and good, old-fashioned elbow grease can change a community for the better.

Pastor Ken Korver and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Deputy Rafer Owens are part of the Compton Initiative, a concerted effort to make Compton a better place to live.

"We would like to be a small piece that helps a radical movement of 10,000 people on a Saturday, all doing good," Korver said as he stood inside a storage room housing materials.

To his left, rakes and shovels lined a wall. On his right, cans and buckets of paint filled the shelves. Those materials, along with various ladders, bushes and rollers, are the tools that volunteers use to transform not only buildings, but lives.

"When two, three, four homes get painted on a block, the whole neighborhood has a sense of hope," Korver said. "There's a sense of change. There's a sense of, 'We can rise.'"

Owens has been a big part of the effort, and he has seen it pay off.

"To have the initiative do what it's doing - reaching out to the community, touching the people - it actually lifts the community, it lifts the city," Owens said.

And it's not just people's homes, schools and parks that are being repaired through the work of the Compton Initiative; barriers that once divided people are being broken down.

As officers paint next to members of the community, the uniform that might otherwise intimidate is gone, Owens said.

Gone, too, is the sense of fear, replaced instead with a sense of camaraderie that allows people to engage in conversation with police. "It takes the stigma away, it takes the uniform away, and then it lets people know we're just regular people, we're regular people like everyone else," Owens said.

This type of engagement, teamwork and trust, Korver believes, is what will propel Compton forward. "We think Compton is to be known as one of the greatest cities in the world, and we think it's headed in that direction."

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