Monterey County

Salinas police work to build trust with frustrated residents

Salinas leaders try to rebuild relationship

SALINAS, Calif. - Harsh words and some heated moments are still running through the minds of community leaders in Salinas as they come together to bridge the divide between the police department and some residents.

It's a story we're following closely.

As the Department of Justice continues their investigations of the recent officer-involved shootings, there's an ongoing evaluation of the dialogue between police and the community in Salinas. 

Police Chief Kelly McMillin, the president of the police officers association and two city council members said they're trying to give frustrated residents a forum -- other than City Hall -  to vent and come up with ways to improve a strained relationship after four officer-involved shootings this year.

"You guys need to change and police departments need to change," said one resident.

There were some tough words from some Salinas residents on Thursday night, who claimed that some officers aren't professional while on patrol.

"I mean I had some clothes that I wanted to give away and I went and I asked him, 'Where do you think I could do that?'...well we have some illiterates over there," said another resident.

The department said it's seen a 25 percent loss of funding for positions over the past five years and leaders are doing everything they can to hold its officers accountable.

"If there's an officer that treats you poorly on the street and you feel that they have done something rude, unethical, there is a mechanism in place," said Officer Gabriel Carvey.

The League of United Latin American Citizens said now is the time for a citizens' police oversight committee.

"It's very important to gain that trust within the community," a representative from LULAC said.  "Because its been almost four months and I think we haven't heard any action."

McMillin said he hopes to start making improvements with place-based policing.

"We need police officers in your communities in our schools to build relationships so that people never begin to think about committing crimes in the first place," McMillin said.

McMillin said those relationships depend on having enough officers to respond to the number of calls.  But he said looking for the best recruits, makes it hard to fill the departments seven vacancies.  Some residents feel the community isn't doing enough to aid police efforts.

"If people would get involved and start helping the police department get rid of the crime, then there wouldn't be as many incidents," said a resident.

City council members who organized this open dialogue said this is just the first of several meetings they plan to hold, as they gather a clearer idea of what's causing a lack of trust between residents and police.

comments powered by Disqus