Mixer: A progress report on California cops

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friday mixer bannerThere’s a new poll that came out this week from the Public Policy Institute of California, that asked residents how they feel about Governor Jerry Brown’s job performance, his budget proposal and also things like water use and higher education spending. All important topics, sure.

And then there was this nugget: the poll found that a solid majority of adults think their police departments are doing an excellent or good job.

But among ethnic minorities there’s a sharp divide. Most whites, Latinos and Asians give local police high marks, but only 36 percent of black respondents do.

Joe Mathews is California columnist for Zocalo Public Square, an ideas exchange that publishes every day. And Jill Leovy is a reporter for the LA Times, and author of the new book “Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America.” Both joined us for this week’s Mixer.

There’s a lot to unpack in this PPIC poll, but we’re focusing on the issue of police relations.

In her book “Ghettoside,” Leovy chronicles murder investigations that she reported on in the Times, and on her blog “The Homicide Report.”

She says she created that blog to draw attention to the large number of killings that take place on the streets of Los Angeles. Murders that, she says, don’t make it to the headlines. And families that typically don’t have an outlet to tell their stories about pain and grief.

Also, in the aftermath of the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York, and the decisions by grand juries not to indict those officers, we heard this message around the country that the police doesn’t care about black lives.

There’s also the immense challenge facing police detectives that witnesses are incredibly reluctant to come forward. We’ve seen that just this past year, with the killing of 25-year-old Ezell Ford in South .LA.

No one, so far, has said they witnessed anything in the case.

And that’s unfortunately true for killings that don’t involve police officers as well.