PALMDALE – Captain Bobby Denham formally introduced the Palmdale Station’s new Community Advisory Committee Thursday.
Its members are Chris Johnson, Kamal Al Khatib, Art Furtado, V. Jesse Smith, Lilia Galindo, Sandy Corrales-Eneix, Emmett Murrell, and Bishop Henry Hearns. The newly formed eight-member committee will work to enhance the communication and trust between the Palmdale Sheriff’s Department and the Antelope Valley.
“They have a tremendous amount of credibility and influence throughout the community and they will be able to bring me feedback from the community, what people may perceive good, bad or indifferent,” Capt. Denham said. “And things that the community would like to see or concerns that they might have so we can address that specifically.”
Corrales-Eneix said she has been sharing her ideas with the captain for 20 years, and this is just a formalizing of that relationship.
“I think if I had to pick one reason why this committee excited me, it’s the ability to engage the public and make sure they feel they are 100 percent part of the process and part of the decision making,” Corrales-Eneix said. “The give and take that the community can engage in with this committee is important.”
Corrales-Eneix said she thinks it’s important for residents to feel that their opinions matter and are valued. The more frequent the communication exists, the easier it is to establish trust, she added.
“When I think of what our captain is doing here, he is really walking the walk when it comes to open door policy,” Corrales-Eneix said. “A lot of people like to talk about that, but he is putting some of the chattiest, opinionated people in the Antelope Valley together for one common cause.”
Hearns, a 50-year resident of the Antelope Valley, said he has established a connection with residents through his time as a pastor and his time as Lancaster mayor.
“I think I can form a bridge across the two cities and throughout the community,” he said. “To let people know that the Sheriff’s Department of Palmdale cares about your safety and about what you want.”
Denham said the Community Advisory Committee is a long term commitment.
“We’re not going to just set up and tackle one or two issues. We’re going to tackle issues as they come up,” he said. “There have been concerns about minorities throughout the Antelope Valley and how they’re policed, and we want to put to rest those concerns… the Sheriff’s Department provides protection equally throughout all races and genders.”
He added that there seems to be a disconnect in the community regarding the Sheriff’s Department’s mission.
“We need to communicate better both ways, and having people who have the ability to do that work with me on a personal basis is certainly going to help bridge any communication issues,” Capt. Denham said.
Kamal Al-Khatib said being on the committee will allow him to do two things that he loves: solving problems and helping people.
“This committee is going to represent the whole community and the relationship between citizens and the sheriff’s department, and we consider ourselves to be ambassadors of peace,” he said. “We’re still a small community, but we’d like to think we’re still a big family.”
Building trust with residents as well as advising the captain on how to adopt newer policies while bringing the same results without casualties is what Al-Khatib said he hopes to accomplish.
The committee will meet once a month at the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station, but the meetings are not open to the public, Capt. Denham said.
“By meeting with me, they’re going to provide me with input from the community in large as well as they’re going to get information from me which can be disseminated out in the public,” he said.
There will be town hall meetings in the future where questions and concerns from residents will be addressed, Denham added.
More on members of the Community Advisory Committee:
* Chris Johnson has served as Senior Pastor at Grace Chapel for 12 years and been an educator at Desert Christian Schools for nine years, six of those years as the high school principal.
* Kamal Al Khatib has lived in the Antelope Valley since 1989 and is the founder, board president and executive director of the Guidance Charter School in Palmdale.
* Art Furtado has had a 54 year career in the radio/broadcast industry, and was an instrumental part of groundbreaking broadcasting in the Antelope Valley, including the first classic rock station, first Hispanic radio station and the entire automation of radio station protocols.
* V. Jesse Smith is an ordained minister, labor leader and community activist at heart, serving as co-founder of The Community Action League, executive board member of the Antelope Valley Black Chamber of Commerce, executive board member of the Antelope Valley’s NAACP, executive board member of The Emmett Murrell’s Boys and Farm Home and Associate minister at Solid Rock Bible Church.
* Lilia Galindo, a small business owner of Cafe con Leche, is also the Director of Unincorporated Areas for the League of United Latin American Citizens, a member of the Democratic Club of the High Desert, a member of the Antelope Valley Human Relations Task Force and a former Director of the Antelope Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
* Sandy Corrales-Eneix, a Palmdale School Board member for over a decade and currently responsible for 24 school sites and 21,000 students, has been active in numerous community organizations, including the Palmdale Women’s Club, PTAs, Antelope Valley Board of Trade, the League of Women Voters AV, and is the former City Planning Commissioner and President of both the Palmdale and Antelope Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
* Emmett Murrell, the Founder and current CEO and Director of The Emmett Murrell’s Farm and Boys Home, has served as Chairman of the Board of Black Infant Health, Director of Youth Employment for the Los Angeles Urban League and Special Project Coordinator for the Southern Area Boys Club. He is a current member of The Community Action League and Elder/Minister at the Living Stone Cathedral of Worship.
* Bishop Henry Hearns, who served in the U.S. Army in Korea, has been in the Antelope Valley for over 45 years serving on the Lancaster City Council, as Vice Mayor and Mayor, as well as being involved in boards and committees such as United Way, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Housing and Urban Development Community Development Act Board, American Cancer Society, Advisory Board for the Boys and Girls Club, and Program Sponsor for the Antelope Valley Black Infant Health Program.