George Floyd

Community is Focus of Policing in Santa Ana

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Walking the beat, making a connection, going into the community -- Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin says this is community-oriented policing.

Santa Ana was one of the first in the nation to try the approach.

But the connection weakened Sunday when protestors marched downtown in support of George Floyd.

Days later organizers say one of the ways they want to rebuild relations is to take money directly from the police department

"We can't facilitate these programs investment in youth unless we have a safe environment.

Valentin grew up in Santa Ana. He's been with the department for three decades and wants to believe the philosophy that started here in the 1970s is still relevant.

"Public safety there is a cost to it and need to remain focused on it," he said. "But just as important is the investment in youth for future there is official formalized programming but also every day conversations that can occur."

He says the same officers patrol the business district daily.

The owner of Cafe Cultura hosts coffee with a cop some mornings and agrees there is a give and take when it comes to trust and the largely immigrant community.

"We got a lot of backlash as a business," said Sam Ruiz, the owner
"Why are you pro cop? Our answer was were pro community. They're here to be on our level, not above us."

In 2018 residents voted to increase sales tax for what they were told would be improvements to the city. Then nearly a third of the expected income was diverted to law enforcement.

Cecilia Iglesias was recalled from the city council after speaking out against the additional police funding.

She contends any ideas going forward should come from residents, not police.

"That's the problem with government telling them what they need versus what the community needs," Iglesias said.

The chief says keeping the streets safe is about shear numbers. He says keeping cops engaged in a community starts the conversation.

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