Michelle Obama invited Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Phil Tingirdes (pictured left) and his wife, Sgt. Emada Tingirides (pictured right), to watch the president’s 2015 State of the Union address on Tuesday to help promote racial healing between law enforcement and the Black community, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The couple’s presence was marked, not only because of their police work, but also because they are interracial; she is Black and he is White. The first lady’s invite came at a tense time for race relations within the nation’s predominantly White police departments and some of the Black communities they are charged with serving. The tenuous relationship was shattered recently after the high-profile deaths of unarmed Blacks at the hands of police officers, including Eric Garner, 44, in Staten Island, N.Y., and Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Mo., this summer.
The Tingirdes were honored for their work with the Community Safety Partnership program; a public relations partnership between police and the community in Watts, which is predominantly Black, the newspaper writes. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told reporters that the Tingirides “were a great representative of the city of Los Angeles and what’s going on here.”
The Los Angeles Times reports:
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told reporters Tuesday that he was “very, very proud” of the Tinigirides’ invite, calling the captain and sergeant “a great representative of the city of Los Angeles and what’s going on here.”
“This is a national stage right now. Police legitimacy, public trust, police-community relations are all at the forefront of everybody’s thoughts right now,” he said.
“Even though we have much to do in L.A., we have done a lot,” Beck said. “And to recognize that, the president’s recognition of that, is very gratifying.”
Violence has dropped and one of the housing developments, Jordan Downs, didn’t see a homicide for three years, the Times writes:
The officers help settle neighborhood disputes and lead a Girl Scout troop of about 150. Tutoring was established and a track team was created. A college scholarship program was formed.
Then, the Watts Bears – a football team of children ages 9 to 11— did the unthinkable: banded residents who otherwise would have been foes.
Capt. Tingirides said the effort has helped repair relationships between police and residents, the paper says.
In light of the vitriol between police and some communities, we are happy to see that police in some communities have good working relationships residents.