Sept. 11 Slye Knight Dent copy

Skye Dent

After learning that I’m Black, that my brother was a teen murder victim and that the Boston Police showed up at the funeral only to threaten my parents into silence, most people are surprised when they learn how supportive I am of the Bakersfield Police Department.

But come on, people do not join the police department to do harm. Some of them may slip down the holes of reprehensible behavior over time. But that can be said about anyone in any profession.

And so it is that I, one of the original members of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Crisis Response Team, upon reading in the Bakersfield Californian that the BPD and the city is on the cusp of receiving over $80 million in state funding, am requesting that the city and the PD investigate starting its own crisis response team.

The LA’s Crisis Response Team was formed in 1992 at the behest of LAPD Capt. Tim King. CRT’s mission is to support crisis survivors. This volunteer organization operates out of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety. I was one of the original volunteers.

Such requires one supervising police officer/administrator, training, coordination and volunteers who can be trusted to keep their activities and the names of victims confidential. Money goes into training and vests. We used our own vehicles to get to and from the scene when called by the LAPD.

Basically, what the members of the Crisis Response Team do is assist the living victims at a crime scene involving the loss of a life or a number of lives.

Volunteers with the CRT undergo extensive training in crisis care, intervention and working with other city departments. Response team members volunteer to be “on call” to respond to events in the city at the request of the LAPD, the Los Angeles Fire Department and area hospitals.

Emergency responses include homicides, suicides, death-notification assistance, domestic violence support, officer-involved shootings, infant deaths and more. When deployed, CRT members liaison between crisis survivors and departmental officials. The CRT provides immediate comfort, emotional support and resources to survivors of traumatic events to help those most affected begin their path to recovery.

I’ve been on scenes where I spent the night trying to find a relative of three children whose mother was killed, because if we didn’t by a certain time, the children would go into protective services.

Once I was called to the scene of multiple murders of teenagers who drove into LA for a party, accidentally drove down a gang street and were shot up. Police and CRT collaborated in trying to take care of 12 teens traumatized by the murders of their relatives and friends.

Another time, I spent the entire night running up and down stairs in East LA taking care of a mother standing on the sidewalk while police tried to determine whether her 8-year-old son was the victim of an accidental Russian roulette game in the attic or a murder.

When I left, I got lost and was surrounded by a Latino biker gang. The gang’s leader said he stopped me because he saw that I was lost and he remembered seeing me hose down the walkway so that the mom would not have to walk through her son’s blood to enter her home. They escorted me safely back to the freeway.

At first, many with the LAPD did not welcome Crisis Response Team members. That changed as they realized that we are not a part of any political group, and could be trusted to simply help the living victims, stay out of the way and maintain confidentiality. Over the years, the community started to trust many officers. Isn’t that what Bakersfield wants?

A crisis response team can’t change the world. But, it can change our part of it. That's all I ask.

Skye Knight Dent, the first Black woman to create a "Star Trek" alien race, has worked full-time as a journalist (AP, Boston Globe, CBS News), editorial writer (Oakland Tribune), professor/teacher (KHSD, UNC, CSUN, Fayetteville State University (HBCU)), documentary producer (Discovery Channel) and novelist.