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Religious Community Aims To Build Trust Between Police, Public

San Diego Police officers talk to a man sitting beside his makeshift shelter ...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: San Diego Police officers talk to a man sitting beside his makeshift shelter on National Avenue, April 12, 2017.

A Southeast San Diego church is set to host a presentation by law enforcement on the state's new anti-profiling law. The public information session Monday is part of a series from faith-based leaders intended to improve the relationship between cops and the communities they police.

The upcoming event at Bayview Baptist Church will focus on the Racial and Identity Profiling Act, which requires California officers to document data about people they stop and share it with a state advisory board for review.

Daniel Orth, program officer for University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice who helped organize the sessions, said the presentation from a San Diego lieutenant will detail the law’s requirements and how it'll affect the public

"There was a lot of uncertainty about what is the data that's being collected, how is it going to be released and how can that data prove useful," Orth said.

RELATED: What SDPD Is Doing With All That Identity Data It Must Collect Under New Mandate

The session is the sixth and last in a series focused on breaking down the rights and responsibilities of both the public and police, including what to expect when you're stopped by a cop and how departments may interact with immigration agencies.

Orth said religious leaders in Southeast San Diego proposed the educational series as part of a strategy to build trust.

"So often there's misunderstanding, a lack of understanding about who is doing what and why," Orth said.

Community member Xochitl Jaramillo said a past presentation explained how an officer’s actions may differ when they’re detaining someone compared to when they’re questioning someone.

“It’s good to know what it is that’s expected from everybody pretty much before we go around pointing fingers,” said Jaramillo, who works with youth that have encountered police.

Orth said officers presenting at the meetings are also expected to be listening.

"Hopefully the idea is law enforcement can take some of those experiences that they hear in our sessions back to inform their own policies too," he said.

He said he hopes to schedule more presentations in the future and provide a forum to discuss solutions, but he plans to review community and law enforcement feedback.

RELATED: How One San Diego Agency Is Complying With Law To Combat Racial Profiling

In addition to an SDPD officer, a member of the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board will speak at Monday's presentation. A representative from the office of Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, who authored the anti-profiling legislation, will also be present.

The series comes from the Building Trust Partnership, an effort from USD's Kroc Institute, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego and the nonprofit San Diego Organizing Project. Organizers conducted interviews with law enforcement and members of San Diego’s most diverse communities, including City Heights, to create a guidebook for faith-based organizations.

“The vision of the Building Trust Partnership is to ensure that if a religious leader, of any faith, anywhere in San Diego County, wants to work on improving police-community relations, she or he can access the knowledge, resources, and support necessary to do so,” the document said.

The handbook was published in English and Spanish. A version in Arabic is coming soon.

A community event will feature a presentation from law enforcement to explain a new anti-profiling law. The informative session is part of a collaborative project that taps faith-based leaders to help improve the relationships between police and the public.

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