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Venue without an audience

The Police Advisory Council plays an important role, members say, despite low attendance by the public.

January 26, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

CENTRAL GLENDALE — Members of a citizen's advisory group that was set up to be a public liaison to the Police Department said they served an important role and would continue to meet despite languid attendance at meetings.

Only three people attended the Glendale Police Advisory Council meeting on Monday, the first gathering this year for the group after a more than eight-month hiatus. The group last met in April, but canceled the July and October meetings due to a lack of quorum and scheduling conflicts.

Still, the advisory council's members — who also serve on the larger Community-Police Partnership Advisory Committee — said the venue was important to maintain.

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"This body does serve a purpose," Mike Gomez said.

Since being appointed to the group, Gomez said he is often approached by residents who are intimidated or afraid to report crimes or issues with the Police Department.

"There are communities who have very little voice and they know who we are and they come to us and say things that eventually come up here," he said.

The advisory council was set up by former Police Chief Randy Adams as a venue for the public to make inquiries and to air complaints, but it has never drawn a large audience. Advisory member Sam Manoukian said that even without the meetings, the Police Department would be able to handle public complaints.

"If these meetings go away or if they don't, it doesn't stop the department from processing complaints," he said.

In the end, though, the ultimate decision rests with Police Chief Ron De Pompa, who has continued to support the advisory council's role.

"To me as an individual, I would continue until the day he says we no longer need these," Manoukian said.

Advisory council member Roobik Ovanesian suggested having the area commanders attend meetings and report back with issues in their respective communities.

He also requested feedback from the Public Works Department about pedestrian safety issues.

And to better control the flow of information, Ovanesian asked that only the group's president, Marko Swan, represent them when talking to the media.

Police officials are in the process of finding a replacement for Maria Prieto, founder of the nonprofit New Horizons Family Center, which recently closed its doors to financial woes. She has missed three consecutive meetings, violating the council's rules, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

Several community members, he said, have applied for Prieto's position.

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