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Rebuilding trust a priority

01.BehindtheBadgeOct2012Anaheim’s new deputy police chief is trying to stop rising crime with diminishing resources.

But the top item on Raul Quezada’s to-do list: rebuilding trust after the summer’s civil unrest.

“If our community doesn’t trust us enough to tell us what’s going on, we won’t be successful,” said Quezada, who was promoted in October. “Everything builds from trust, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to maintain it.”

While working to rebuild relationships, Quezada also seeks new ideas from members of the department – and the community.

“If you’ve got an idea that will help us solve problems, call me,” he says.

Quezada, who is fluent in Spanish, recently spent an hour on Anna Drive, a neighborhood where two officer-involved shootings of documented gang members in July sparked the unrest. There, Quezada and other officers tossed footballs, played word puzzles and enjoyed friendly chats with neighborhood children and parents.

“Getting out in the community and letting people know that we want to work with them is the first step toward regaining trust and reversing crime trends,” he says.

Interacting with young people in tough neighborhoods isn’t new to Quezada, who was the department’s first Cops4Kids officer.

As deputy chief, Quezada is responsible for day-to-day police operations for the 10th largest city in California.

Crime and gangs are a major focus. The state’s move in October 2011 to saddle local agencies with monitoring state prisoners upon their release is taxing Anaheim’s troops. Violent crime is up 5 percent. Overall crime is up 16 percent. The department had tied 90 “PCS” ex-cons to 167 cases through Oct. 24. The cases range from theft to a double homicide.

To deal with the challenge, the department’s intelligence-led policing experts overlay crime data over ex-cons’ addresses to generate investigative leads.

But generating leads, building cases and making arrests takes time and people.

At its peak, Anaheim had 403 cops. Today, there are only 351.

The community policing team has been hit hard. The number of police personnel dropped from a high of 43 in 2004 to 12 last year.

Since the unrest, the department has restored two positions. It has also added foot patrols. And every morning, officers chat with parents and children at schools.

Cops4Kids visits Anna Drive every Thursday. Officers hand out fliers to neighbors after major search and arrest operations.

“We’re getting back to basics of relationships, partnerships and communication,” says Quezada.

Got a crime-fighting idea? Email Quezada at rquezada@anaheim.net.

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