Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Community Developer Reaches for Understanding INTERVIEW. US CITIES

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Community Developer Reaches for Understanding INTERVIEW. US CITIES

Article excerpt

FOR 26 years, Bob Jones has been executive director of the National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) for southern California.

Founded nationally in 1927 as a response to religious intolerance, NCCJ's chapter here has responded to dramatic demographic changes by shifting its focus to racial hatred and bigotry.

During Mr. Jones's tenure, the NCCJ developed several innovative programs for law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Among them:family-crisis intervention training for police; neighborhood watch; victim and witness assistance programs; and race-relations training for Los Angeles airport police.

In the wake of the police beating of a black motorist here last March, Jones was appointed to a citizen's advisory committee to help the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department implement race-relation strategies recommended by the Christopher Commission.

Jones spoke with the Monitor about race problems just prior to retiring from the NCCJ last month.

What can help this city/society recognize the factors of racism?

We are in a sense a step ahead to have such an incident {the beating of Rodney King} and its investigation so thoroughly acknowledge the prevalence of racism in law enforcement.

Now it is on the table that {racism} must be dealt with very forthrightly and formally if the police are going to improve. Police now realize that the outlaws they have in their departments cannot be tolerated as they have in the past.

What behaviors can we put under the umbrella term "racism?"

Racial attitudes that cause harm to people - very severe, negative attitudes about people that get acted out quite often. Racism is endemic to every institution in this country but police are in a particularly vulnerable position.

Is that really a revelation?

I do feel that racism is more acted out in the last dozen years than ever before.

What are the reasons?

I think government has to accept responsibility for the trend. They've moved civil rights way down the list of priorities, allowing education and business to follow suit. …

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