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On Oct. 22, 2013, a young Latino boy named Andy Lopez was shot by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy. His death was a tremendous loss for our community.

We all want our children to grow up in a safe and healthy environment.

Our hearts continue to go out to Sujey and Rodrigo and all of the Lopez family for this tragic and unnecessary loss of their young son and his future. Andy’s life, and loss of life at such a young age, will long be remembered by Sonoma County.

It has resulted in a recommitment to the principles of justice, equality and fair treatment for all who live here, regardless of ethnic or national origin.

The Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez has led demonstrations and efforts to keep our hearts and minds on the incident and how we can improve future outcomes.

The county has taken measures to ensure that Andy’s death is not in vain. Among these steps was the formation of a citizen’s task force that has worked diligently to evaluate policies which will result in greater transparency and citizen oversight of our law enforcement agencies.

Citizen oversight review boards, lapel cameras, community outreach and education are all being evaluated and will result in recommendations to the Board of Supervisors early next year.

Law enforcement has begun the process of evaluating the use of lapel cameras, and our Board of Supervisors approved funding for the program. The task force has engaged the sheriff on the guidelines that his department will use, and this effort should provide greater transparency and better review of future incidents. Lapel camera programs are widely supported by both advocates and law enforcement, and they often result in a dramatic decrease in citizen complaints.

Due to the recent killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the long-evolving issue of the militarization of this nation’s police has become a very overdue national dialogue.

More stories have been coming out about the military weapons giveaways by the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to law enforcement across this country. These giveaways have even extended to our nation’s schools.

To their credit, some communities have actually refused these giveaways or given them back after rethinking the process.

Soon an activist driven effort will bring a resolution to the Board of Supervisors calling for greater public input and notice of any military hardware acquisitions by the Sheriff’s Office.

This small step is one of many that we will take to restore the public confidence in law enforcement that has been lost over the years.

We hope that Sonoma County can lead the way in repairing the broken public trust.

Let us all move forward in a spirit of cooperation and respect in honor of Andy Lopez’s memory and create positive reforms as a lasting legacy of this tragic incident.

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Below are some local events to commemorate the legacy of Andy Lopez and the public is invited.

Saturday, Oct. 18: Clean Up Day at Andy’s Park (West Robles and Moorland avenues) 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 20: Community Task Force meeting, 6 p.m., 2227 Capricorn Way, Santa Rosa

Wednesday, Oct 22: Community potluck at Andy’s Memorial Park (West Robles and Moorland) beginning at 4:30 p.m.

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