Pinch of Salt Graphic (English)

I’m the most impatient person I know.

When I’m trying to defend myself, I say that I am “results oriented.” It’s a pop psychology phrase I learned 20 or 30 years ago.

It’s my MO (method of operation) to take on a task, move through it, then move on. I want it — whatever it is — completed.

After observing and occasionally writing about the Black Lives Matter and Defund Police movements the last couple of months, I’ve come to the conclusion that many of the activists are of the same personality type as me — they want change, and they want it now.

The sense of urgency displayed by these folks makes me think they are students of history. Time after time, there have been uprisings and strong ideas to change — hopefully improve — society. But the needle has moved only slightly, if at all.

My generation truly believed that Flower Power and All You Need Is Love would create a kinder, gentler world. You see how well that’s worked out.

So pushing for change before the momentum is lost is understandable. And it seems to have worked, at least a little bit, in Los Angeles County, with money taken away from the Sheriff’s Department and a ballot issue to codify the whole thing.

As far as I can tell, the city of LA has revived a 10-year-old community policing program and given it more resources. Activists are all over that plan, saying it is the farthest thing from defunding police.

Long Beach is about ready to come up to bat. The City Council will receive a proposed budget from the city manager and mayor, then spend the next month or so talking about how or if they want to change it.

There’s going to be precious little money to spread around. It is unlikely any cuts to the Police Department will be matched by increases in social services. Instead, it will count toward balancing the budget.

In the meantime, Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price has come up with a more deliberate approach to making changes in the Police Department. Price is chair of the council’s public safety committee, and wants the review process to happen there.

Her plan has four phases, or areas of review, from programs run by nonprofits to “change the culture” at the LBPD to how the Citizens Police Complaint Commission can be strengthened to better deal with policy violations.

Price is calling for a series of public meetings to run through November to go over all this stuff. The committee can’t make any changes itself — everything has to go through the full City Council. So add even more time.

Will the fire in the belly of change advocates go out by then? I don’t think so — this is one hot fire. But I suspect the passion will cool, to be replaced, hopefully, with reason.

There’s no question this is a critical time to institute reforms. But we need to make the right reforms so they create real change.

That takes patience. Here’s hoping we find some.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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