Community-based policing and the need for new police equipment were at the top of the agenda of a town hall meeting between residents and Police Chief Willie L. Williams and Deputy Mayor William Violante.
About 450 residents filled the Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church on Nov. 18 for the two-hour meeting, at which Williams pledged to bring more foot patrols to the area.
"Over the next three years we'll put foot patrol officers on the street, so the 99.8% of the community who are law-abiding people will get to know their police officers," said Williams.
Williams and Violante also fielded questions on additional police support for community groups that oppose the rebuilding of liquor stores destroyed during last year's civil unrest.
Williams said he hopes to involve more residents through neighborhood advisory councils and "by getting the department out and into the community and letting people have a say."
Some were critical of Mayor Richard Riordan for failing to schedule a similar forum with local residents. "Why is it so hard to get the mayor to come out and talk to us in South-Central?" asked Herman Mayfield. "We the citizens are being played like a football, and we need the mayor to come down and talk to us."
Violante's response drew jeers when he said the mayor had already had meetings with the Rev. Cecil Murray of First African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2240 S. Harvard Blvd.
"That's not South-Central!" yelled a woman sitting in the last pew.