There have been "shifts in Hispanic relationships with the police department" since President Trump took office, according to Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, and he has some hard data to back that up.
Beck said in a press conference last week that his department had performed an analysis of 911 calls, which overall are up by around 1 percent since January. In Rampart and Hollenbeck, two majority Hispanic areas, however, calls were down by 6-1/2 and 10 percent respectively.
Hollenbeck and Rampart are "two divisions that are normally very, very busy and are majority-Hispanic. So there are a number of things that we may see evolve because of federal policies," he said.
This is on top of news in March that reports of domestic violence and sexual assault had dropped significantly in Hispanic-majority areas -- but not among other minorities. Domestic violence reports were down 10 percent in the Latino community; sexual assault complaints were off by 25 percent.
At the time, Chief Beck thought it was too early to know whether the reports were down because of Trump's election or actions in office. He admitted there was a "strong correlation" but not yet a "direct nexus" between Latinos' reluctance to contact police and a harsher federal immigration policy.
Trump fears haven't affected recruitment in LAPD Cadets program
The good news is that the policies of the Trump administration haven't yet brought down enrollment in the LAPD Cadets program, which is made up of nearly 90 percent Latino recruits. The purpose of the program is to help the LAPD "relate with the community and establish legitimacy."
However, it is possible the policies, which many people see as overly harsh or even anti-immigrant, could eventually suppress interest in the program. Beck said he would "watch that very carefully."
Police legitimacy and community relations are a major focus of the LAPD and much of California in regards to the new administration's policies. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Chief Beck and other officials have repeatedly said they will provide a "sanctuary" for immigrants.
Primarily, this means refusing to order local law enforcement to assist federal immigration authorities. The argument goes that if immigrants fear their immigration status will be at issue, they won't call the police. This keeps the authorities out of the picture when crime occurs.
Even though the LAPD and other local law enforcement will not cooperate with immigration authorities, fear of detention or deportation may be keeping Hispanics from calling 911 -- and that's dangerous.
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