Cops Can Make a Difference

Cmdr. Phil and Sgt. Emada Tingirides, LAPD
Cmdr. Phil and Sgt. Emada Tingirides, LAPD

Meet two of “Governing” magazine’s Top Fifteen Public Officials of the Year — a husband and wife police team working and leading in the Watts district of Los Angeles.

Every year since 1994, Governing Magazine has honored individual state and local government officials for outstanding accomplishment by naming them Public Officials of the Year. Elected, appointed and career officials from any branch of state or local government are eligible.

Here is part of the piece from “Governing” magazine by John Buntin.


“In the two decades from 1980 to 2000, more than 15,000 young men died violent deaths in Los Angeles. Nowhere was the violence more entrenched than in the public housing developments of Watts, a 20-square-block area seven miles south of downtown. Police likened working Watts to entering a war zone… Residents in turn saw the police force as an occupying army.

“Today, Watts is attracting attention for a very different reason: It’s become a model for how police and minority communities can work together to improve relations and reduce crime. Community residents and gang intervention workers have played a critical role in this process, but it wouldn’t have happened without the skill and commitment of two LAPD officers, Commander Phil Tingirides and Sergeant Emada Tingirides, husband and wife.

“Phil Tingirides was appointed senior area captain for Watts in 2007. He immediately set out to build strong relations with the Watts Gang Task Force, a group created after a series of gang shootings in 2005. He started weekly meetings with the task force, developing trust and relationships that eventually allowed the LAPD to police Watts in a different way, one that would dramatically reduce the rate of violent crime.

“In 2011, the Community Safety Partnership was born. A collaboration between the LAPD and the city Housing Authority, the program placed an additional 30 officers in public housing developments in Watts. To head up the initiative, the police turned to Emada Tingirides. Together, Emada and Phil Tingirides looked for officers who were interested in relationship building, not suppression. More than 300 applied…

“The results over the next few years were staggering. Shootings by young men and women fell by two-thirds. Homicides dropped nearly to zero in the housing developments where the program was in place. Watts is still a poor, high-crime community. But while South Los Angeles as a whole has seen violent crime rise this year, Watts has seen it fall even further.

“Across the country, the police profession is grappling with what some call a crisis of legitimacy. It’s a crucial time for cities to get it right on building relationships between police and the communities they serve. The Tingirideses have consulted with other cities, including Chicago and New York, on implementing an approach similar to the one in Watts. But it’s not easy, says Emada: ‘They need to get community support in putting together programs. And they need to have patience. It takes patience.’

“Phil agrees. ‘You are changing the culture of communities and the police department,’ he says, ‘and real culture change takes time.’

It’s time worth investing. Phil and Emada Tingirides’ work in Watts — together with the work of community residents, gang interventionists and many others — has become a model of reform and a symbol of hope.

You can find the Governing link and other award recipients HERE.


  1. I would like to read more information on how the police and community manage to work to reduce the shootings to zero and how they dealt with the gangs. My worried is how long will it last before there are cuts to the police programs that causes the crime to rise again.


    1. A good question. There’s that old statement: You get what you pay for. Cutting budgets when we want police to restore trust with their communities is a bad idea. Just look at the amount of money paid by cities for police misconduct — it could go into a lot of salary enhancement for the good cops!


  2. You don’t always get what you paid for. LAPD Chief Parker had managed to get the LAPD to become one of the best paid police department in the USA during his reign which prevent his officers from being corrupted by the criminal elements in LA; however, when it came to being a servant of the people, the workers, left-wing people, populists, progressives, minorities, civil rights activists, and women did not get their money’s worth from the LAPD in terms of job opportunities on that force plus not having the political, social, civil, and labor rights violated by the LAPD. Just because you paid someone pretty well doesn’t guarantee they will turn in a good days work that benefits their organization and for the country as well.


  3. Just because you paid someone well doesn’t mean you will get your money’s worth. LAPD Chief Parker got his department to become one of the best paid police department during his reign which prevent the criminal elements from bribing his officers; however, the labor unions, civil rights organizations, progressives, populist, socialists, communists, women, and minorities did not get their money’s worth when the LAPD kept for violating their rights. Those two LAPD cops still have to go vetted those 300 applicants to see if they had the “right” stuff. If you could have a perfectly clean, spotless record on paper with fruit salad on your chest, but still be a bad cop and it would be an open secret but no one wanted to upset the apple cart.


  4. Politics in the police departments can also be blame for cutting police programs or reducing their effectiveness. In the book Gangbusters by Michael Stone, an elite task force of police detectives and district attorneys called the Homicide Investigation Unit (HIU) work together to bring down some of the worst street gangs in New York City in the 1980s and 1990s. Not only did they take down the gang leaders but also their structure as well using conspiracy laws. Despite their success, other New York law enforcement units and district attorneys did not create a similar HIU in their area plus the turf wars and who gets the credit both within the various DA offices and in the NYPD rear their ugly heads.

    In the book to Protect and Serve by Joe Domanick, you had a couple of minority cops developing and implementing their own programs while off duty to stem gang violence, raise funds for the community, help kids, etc. Those cops were punished by the LAPD Chief Gates because they did not fit Gates’s vision of the LAPD should be like plus these cops had their own ideas of how the police could serve the community. If you wanted to be promoted in the LAPD at that time, you had to toe the line, put your brain on hold, work in the right jobs and know the right people to help you get promoted. Precincts were not allowed to innovate and experiment in order to meet the unique conditions in the areas they police.

    Finally, the cops themselves help cut out their programs because of their corrupt activities. NYPD had a patrol unit called the Anti-Crime which was successful; however, it got disbanded because some of the members were caught doing illegal, corrupt activities.


  5. Police politics and corruption can also end police programs that directly or indirectly restores trust in the community. Paying a police officer, an excellent salary doesn’t mean you are going to get your money’s worth.

    LAPD Chief Gates ensure that his officers were well paid; however, the labor unions, civil right organizations, minorities, progressives, populists, socialists, and communists did not get their money’s worth from the LAPD when it came to their rights being respected and protected by the police.

    In the book To Protect and Serve by Joe Dominck, a couple of minority cops did their own community programs off duty to help kids, raise funds for the community, did anti-gang lectures, etc. When the LAPD heard about it, they took action against the two cops because they did not fit Chief Gate’s view of what the LAPD officer was. In that time period, an LAPD cop had to leave his brain at home, had to get the right jobs and the right connections to promote upwards.

    In the book Gangbusters by Michael Stone, an elite NYPD/DA unit titled the Homicide Investigation Unit (HIU) took down various gangs leaders and their organizations through the use of conspiracy laws in the 1980s and 1990s. Despite their success, the other New York police agencies and their district attorneys did not create a similar unit in their areas. Furthermore, turf wars and who gets the credit in both the NYPD and the NYC district attorney’s office emerge whereby members of the unit were denied promotions and were not allowed to create similar HIU units.

    Police corruption can also put an end to police programs that directly or indirectly help the community. The NYPD had a unit called Anti-Crime where it was successful; however, it was disbanded because some of the unit members were caught doing corrupt things.

    Finally, another problem is when the police have to do lots of overtime work when it comes to working with the community and you have police supervisors and managers complaining about keeping within the budget; however, some of them don’t hesitate to do lots overtime work and get pay for it and are not held accountable for it.


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