This morning, Arcata Police Department Chief Brian Ahearn is set to host a meet-and-greet community walk through the city’s Sunset neighborhood.

Today’s “Walk With the Chief” event is the latest in a recent series of outreach measures undertaken by the department this month. Other events slated for December included a similar stroll through the city’s Windsong neighborhood a week ago and a Dec. 8 open house at the offices of the APD.

It’s easy to be cynical about “outreach” — it’s one of those gauzy words that can be wrapped around any problem to staunch the bleeding while the patient is awaiting more substantial treatment.

We’re not being cynical today.

There is a rift between too many Arcatans and their city’s police — a rift that only widened during the APD’s lengthy investigation of the April 15, 2017 fatal stabbing of Humboldt State University student Josiah Lawson.

It’s the same rift that exists in cities across America. The only way to heal it is to replace mistrust and distrust with mutual trust. We won’t pretend today to know everything that needs to be done to reach that destination, but Chief Ahearn seems to be have taken a good first step toward that end with this month’s outreach efforts. We ask the Arcata community to both give him a fair chance and to hold him accountable.

If you go

What: Walk with the Chief: Sunset Neighborhood

When: Today, 11 a.m. to noon

Where: Meet Chief Ahearn at the entrance of Larson Park, at the corner of Eye Street and Grant Avenue, at 11 a.m., or catch him in the neighborhood until noon.

Cost: Free

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