As part of its Luncheon Forum series, Pacifica Institute, recently, proudly hosted the United States Attorney, André Birotte Jr., in an informative talk intended to introduce the office and the service they provide for the community. Making a reference to his personal background, he noted that he shared a deeper connection with the Pacifica family after having heard of the Helping Hands Relief aid to Haiti after the earthquake.
“I strongly believe in the importance of engaging with the community,” he said, and expressed how happy he was about coming in to speak to the crowd seated before him. “I want to share with you some of the work we do in our office and our priorities,” he said as he began his words. The coming together of the two sides will provide the medium to develop a constructive relationship to better serve the community and our people was Mr. Birotte’s general approach to the matter.
Mr. André Birotte Jr. was nominated by President Obama to serve as the United States Attorney for the Central District of California. He leads a team of approximately 260 attorneys and 200 staff members working to serve a population of around 19 million people.
Our first and foremost priority is to ensure the public safety of our people, he stated, pointing out that this specifically meant protection from violent extremists and related activities such as those recently experienced in the shooting of the school in Connecticut and the sikh temple in Wisconsin. We have so many popular locations here in the LA region, and they may very well be target locations for people seeking to do harm, he noted. He assured everyone by underlining the fact that they had special lawyers working night and day solely concentrated on seeking to protect the people from such activities.
Another aspect Mr. Birotte drew attention to was the growing problem of gang violence in the area. Crimes that occur in plain sight, such as human trafficking and forced labor, are issues we must be especially sensitive towards, he said as he also warned the listeners of a new phenomenon in the world of cyber crime. He explicitly advised the listeners to “be cautious of the interesting e-mails you get from a friend asking for money because they’re stranded in some country on the other side of the world”, and to also “at least put tape over the camera on your computers” to be safe from cyber spies.
A third point of focus in their work, as Mr. Birotte stated, was the civil rights of the community. We have special enforcement and action teams concentrated on working against bribe cases and discrimination towards certain religious groups, and working on enforcing the rights of our disabled citizens, he underlined
Mr. Birotte expressed that only through a mutual relationship with the community could the US attorney’s office better serve the community. It is our responsibility to educate the community where needed, but we also require help from the community in better understanding what the needs are, he affirmed. In order to be “your” US attorney we must be responsive to your needs and the only way to figure out the real problem is by really going out and engaging with the community, he said.
As a conclusion, Mr. Birotte spoke of ‘Summer Night Lights”, a youth development program intended to provide alternative fun-filled activities for the youth as a means to keep them occupied and out of criminal activities. By volunteering at the program, dressed in a “no black suit” fashion, Mr. Birotte expressed that they had a chance to connect with the community and say ‘we care about you’ outside of the courtroom. Summer Night Lights, as the listeners all concurred, was a great alternative to provide the youth an opportunity to let out their energy and stay out of trouble, and more programs like this must be promoted.
The forum ended with a Q&A session and the guests departed content with the knowledge that they were being cared for and protected by their dedicated US attorney’s office members