Writer responds to Harper’s comments on 21st Century Policing symposium

Dear Editor:

Please read http://eastcountytoday.net/letter-mayor-harper-supports-antioch-police-outreach-efforts/

I would like to acknowledge publicly that an attempt was made to meet with the Mayor face to face and resolve any misinterpretations and, or misgivings regarding the symposium. Mayor Harper, stated: “I won’t be meeting about the ‘opinion’ article. Feel free to write a rebuttal or response to…”  I have respectfully done so in love.

Dear Mayor Wade Harper:

I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to attend the Building Bridges and Tearing Down Barriers symposium. The symbiotic relationship that you have with local law enforcement is commendable. However, I am sorely disappointed by your overall interpretation of the symposium organizers’ efforts. This organization is to be commended for their due diligence, perseverance, and dedication in an attempt to have positive productive conversations that could ultimately save lives.

Based on your aforementioned letter; you stated some ways in which the symposium could have potentially been more successful. Your recommendations are greatly appreciated. The organization did plan to attend a city council meeting introducing objectives and overarching-goals of the organization.  Unfortunately, the spokesperson for the organization had to attend to an unforeseen matter- so he was unable to attend the council meeting preceding the symposium. In addition, the organization members did meet with several council members individually as you suggested.

According to the content that precedes your letter, stated: “Harper said Antioch Police are reaching out to the community and that ACT has caused great confusion in the community as to whether or not police would participate in the forums.” This statement is really disheartening. The organization’s intentions were to ameliorate the relationship between law enforcement and the community. Most importantly the symposium was a conduit to positive productive proactive conversations that could ultimately save lives.

You are correct. Unfortunately, there were errors on the initial flyers. However, a new amended flyer with the correct information was presented to local law enforcement, city officials (I personally sent one to you), local mediums, and the public at large. In addition, a member of the organization contacted the local law enforcement and apologized for the initial misgivings. For further clarification, police were actually part of the panel; unfortunately, local law enforcement was not part of the panel for this particular symposium. Hopefully, local law enforcement will be able to participate in the future and convey all the impactful events that they are participating in- and hosting within the community.

However, the panel did consist of a retired police officer and a current CHP officer that offered their introspective perspective that provided an intended balance of opinions and experiences. The panel was outstanding. They should be commended for their collective passion, professionalism and integrity. Their time and effort were not taken for granted. The panel consisted of a re-entry coordinator, a licensed registered nurse/case manager; a licensed family therapist/clinical specialist; a lawyer/founder and principal; and the aforementioned officers.

You stated in your letter the following: “I encourage people to have the discussion, host forums, talk about the issues, but I encourage them to not do it as an outsider looking in. As members of the community, do it as an insider and a member of the community.”

Five out of the six panelists are Antioch residential homeowners. Including myself the moderator that would make six out seven. Who determines whether a person is an insider or outsider?

You also stated: “My conclusion is that we should resist the temptation to judge Antioch police based upon on what happens in other states and cities.”

With all due respect, you did not stay for the conclusion of the symposium; so how can you conclude anything objectively?  It is disappointing to hear you convey that some people were “outsiders” and some people were “insiders,” especially when our tax dollars are utilized for a multiplicity of local governmental endeavors.  

Again, I am deeply saddened and disappointed. We look to you for leadership not condemnation. The organization did not attempt to bifurcate, nor oppose local law enforcement. However, I am still prayerful that this will clarify any misinterpretations or misgivings. We will continue to be proactive community members seeking to avoid tragedies. We are willing to symbiotically work with: various organizations, community stakeholders, and local municipalities for the greater good of the community.


Dr. Lawrence A. Rasheed


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