Project SEEK – Uniting Efforts of Community and Law Enforcement

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Community leaders at first Hawthorne/Lennox Community Safety Coalition Meeting.  Top L-R:  ‘Alisi Tulua, Sina Fifita, President Sione Tuiasoa, Pastor John Jefferson, Lt. Johann Thrall, Ethan Nguyen.  Sitting L-R: Nisi Vaomotou, Maria De Leon, Vanessa May, Sgt. Chris Cognac, Fifita Tutoe. 

By Alisi Tulua

Over the past few months, key leaders from Hawthorne and Lennox have gathered to begin the work of the Hawthorne/Lennox Community Safety Coalition.  This coalition is coordinated by Project SEEK (Safety, Education and Engagement for Kids), and aims to gather input and feedback from leaders in creating guidelines and policies for law enforcement agencies on ways to build better and more positive relationships with communities.

The first meeting focused on introducing the agencies to each other, and learning more about how the project was started and its long-term goals.  Representatives from Hawthorne Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were present, along with community leaders from the Tongan, Latino, and African American communities.  In particular, there was a lot of interest in the migration history of the Tongan community to the Hawthorne/Lennox area, and how this helps provide better understanding of the community for law enforcement agencies.

Further relationship-building was carried out during the second meeting, where each of the law enforcement agencies shared about their current approaches to building relationships with communities.  In addition to the two agencies that attended the first meeting, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Parks Bureau was also present.  It was an evening of rich sharing where we established that although we come from different lines of work, our core goal for our work is to improve the lives that we touch collectively.  All members of the Community Safety Coalition are looking forward to our next meeting where we will then begin to discuss different guidelines and policies that are important to every member of the coalition.

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