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When Law Enforcement Works

The Answer is Community Engagement

With everything that has gone on with law enforcement, many would ask me how I could still support policing and not want to defund the police. My answer revolves around my personal experience with law enforcement, which was incredibly extensive and out of my control. It also has a lot to do with my direct engagement with Redondo Beach Police Department and RBP Foundation.

Redondo Beach Police Department

As I stated in my memoir, A CHILD’S MEMORIES OF CARTOONS AND MURDER, growing up, by the time I was 18 years of age and off to college, I had encountered the police over 100 times. I am a gun violence survivor and witnessed an incredible amount of crime and violence during my childhood. I watched my mother be shot, her boyfriend be killed, and spent time in a Federal Witness Protection Program at the age of 5. Also during my young years, I was actually the person to call the police on numerous occasions. Not once did they fail me, not show up, let me down, or abuse anybody in my presence. As an African American woman, a female, that is tremendous. First hand, I can say that I have witnessed policing done right.

This was Tonya Jones before the murder and federal witness protection.
Little Tonya

How does my personal experience balance with what we have seen in the media, been recorded and posted, or what I have known to happen to some of my friends and loved ones? I cannot balance it. I think that the answer to that is the million-dollar solution. What I do know is that defunding the police is not the answer. At a time when the numbers are increasing with child abuse, domestic violence, and violent crime, knowing what it feels like to be a victim in those situations, the even more frightening circumstance, is not having the police to call, not knowing if somebody will show up to break up the bloody fight, or not show up to take the sexual assault report. The thought of defunding the police ignites a level of anxiety that triggers my own PTSD. It takes me back to my childhood and let me tell you, trauma is everlasting. The depths of complex trauma never disappear, it fades but easily recalled in certain moments.

Solutions for policing need to be robust and well-thought-out. They need to make sense for the communities that are being served. For Redondo Beach Police Department, lead by Chief Keith Kauffman, the solutions start with community engagement. As a member of the Redondo Beach Police Community Engagement Board, lead by Captain Jon Naylor, I have had the pleasure of watching how Coffee with a Cop and other community programs have made a world of difference in perception and community unity.

Take a look at some of the other amazing programs that Redondo Beach Police Department is doing to serve and engage the community.

I would love your thoughts on the video. The innovating programming has done more to bring the community together even when some of the residents do not 100% agree. Particularly the homeless situation, would you support something like this in your city or residence?

Tonya McKenzie
Founder of Sand & Shores
Communications & Leadership Consultant
Author of A Child’s Memories of Cartoons & Murder
Twitter & Instagram: @TonyaMcKenziePR

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