On a recent hot summer afternoon, LAPD Sgt. Emada Tingirides opened the trunk of her police car in the Nickerson Gardens housing project in Watts and handed out bead bracelets and books to three excited little girls.
She checked in with a longtime resident who was volunteering at the gym then started walking a foot beat.
With 1,064 units, Nickerson is the largest public housing project on the West Coast and a place that's long struggled with gang violence. Tingirides, 44, leads a group of 50 officers who patrol the housing projects of Watts as part of the LAPD’s Community Safety Partnership.
It's the kind of policing advocates have insisted would have prevented last summer's fatal shooting of Ezell Ford by LAPD gang officers on 65th Street and Broadway, a few miles away. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Police commission faulted the actions of one of the officers, which led to the shooting. Ford, 25, was unarmed and his family says he suffered from mental illness. The shooting sparked angry protests.