Lemanz Campbell says he was cruising along Broadway at 77th Street on a battered black bike when he stopped to talk, seeing our Fox microphone and TV camera. I'd just come from the weekly L.A. Police Commission meeting, where Chief Beck and others in his ''command staff'' were very pleased with themselves for dramatically curtailing the gang violence in South L.A. that we all reported on over the past couple of weeks.
RELATED: Gang Violence Escalates In South LA
You may recall, there was at least one death and more than a dozen wounded. Beck said a combination of increased patrols, intelligence, proactive policing, working with clergy, sheriffs, schools, and community members he called ''Ambassadors'' made a big difference. He's all about building trust, about how his officers do things, not just what they do.
Beck says he knows community policing has to be real and says he's happy that his department has bought into it. Campbell, a sort of street philosopher on two wheels who says he grew up in the gang life, is okay with all that, but he thinks it has to start at home, as in, ''parents need to control their kids.'' Of course, that's a familiar and noble concept which, as we've seen too often, doesn't really translate into reality in many cases, which is why the police are such a big part of any solution.
Their role includes encouraging young people to steer clear of gangs, promising gang bangers they'll be going to jail, and working with committed ''Ambassadors'' to do some things as simple as blocking traffic and providing, parking and perimeter security for a funeral or a wake as a sign of respect and a show of understanding of what's important in a given neighborhood. It's the ''long game'' they're playing, but in the short term the violence, fortunately now less of it, will continue.