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Wells Fargo Bank opens a new branch in Compton; Celebrating a resurgence of business to the Hub City
The city of Compton is making an all out effort to attract businesses and to improve the quality of life for its residents while changing the city’s image to reflect a “kinder, friendlier landscape.” Wells Fargo Bank has recently opened a full-service banking store at the newly built Compton Towne Square off Alameda and the 91 Freeway. According to Wells Fargo, the new facility—the fourth since 1994—is part of a larger initiative to effectively bring capital resources, financial education, job development and financial products and services to the community. The opening, billed as a community celebration, was attended by over four hundred residents, business owners and community leaders.
Eric Perrodin is the mayor of Compton and he is also a deputy district attorney. He was direct about the viability of businesses coming to Compton as he said, “No business is going to come to Compton unless it’s profitable. Wells Fargo already had three other branches here—they had one that opened about a year and a half ago—and because of its success and a previous branch that was in a super market, they felt that Compton is a place where they can, not only make money but also contribute to the community. It means a lot to us that an institution like Wells Fargo comes to the city of Compton. It enhances our reputation that we are changing and birthing a new Compton.”
Councilman Isadore Hall, in whose district the bank is located, seemed very pleased as he stated, “In an effort to bring financial education to our constituency, we reached out to Wells Fargo who has been a key player in the process. Our community, as well as the entire part of South Los Angeles County area is inundated with ‘drive-thru’ check cashing stations and they charge from $1.00 to $1.50 per hundred—anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of a dollar to cash a check.”
In that kind of environment, the opening of an established financial banking institution is a welcome sight as it gives the community a financial safety net through the ancillary services that it provides besides just cashing checks for a fee. It provides financial education, goals and incentives, home loans, equity lines of credit and many more benefits. Hall continued, “And it is good not just for Compton, but the entire South Los Angeles region because we seem to have more of these ‘drive-thru’ centers than any other part of town.”
Councilwoman Barbara J. Calhoun is one of the city’s elected officials, who was a former union president and is a dedicated leader of the first councilmanic district. She said, “I missed the opening because I was in Washington D. C. trying to get money for our city that we deserve and need.” Though absent in person, she was there in spirit, working on behalf of Compton’s financial well-being in the nation’s capital. “I noticed it was packed; I was over there (at the bank) today, and that’s a good thing. Businesses are coming back to the city and we already have a Wells Fargo in my district, and it just very busy. Furthermore, we are looking for the right type of businesses to bring back to the city—those that will make us bigger and brighter than we were before. And with the entire city designated as an enterprise zone, any business that hires a Compton resident will get a tax break. So it’s good for the community and it’s good for the business. It’s exciting; Compton is on the move and we’re moving on up.”
Jackie Banks, a Wells Fargo Bank manager, when asked about the opening of the new facility, said, “I think it’s marvelous; Compton was a community that was “under-banked” with only a few banks and we started with a small in-store in Superior Market. And I went to my superior and told them that we needed a bigger presence here in Compton because the community is underserved and it makes good corporate business sense and it will do a lot for the community. They took a look at it and lo and behold here we are with a large traditional [bank]. And we are trying to reach out and educate the community and allow them to enjoy the financial products and services that everybody else has been able to enjoy. We are also working with the city of Compton to provide home loan for first time buyers.”
Led by Mayor Eric Perrodin and a united City Council, Compton launches a study about possible return of its own Police Department There is a policy study underway in the city of Compton to see if it is possible and/or economically viable to re-establish the Compton Police Department or a similar metropolitan-type law enforcement entity that would embody the needs of several organizations including the Compton Unified School District, the Community College and any other such needs in addition to the city. At one time, Compton had its own independent police department, but it was disbanded and the law enforcement duties were taken over by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department.
While interviewing Mayor Eric Perrodin of Compton, the Sentinel broached the question to him and he stated, “I think a city like Compton is better off having its own police department because you have the opportunity of getting to know the officers on a daily basis. Whereas you have a contract agency like the sheriff’s department with deputies that don’t know the community and generally the ones in Compton have little experience on the street and when they do get enough experience they leave, and never get a chance to cultivate those relationships which is very important if you want to solve crime.”
That seems to suggest that Compton is used as a training ground for new, inexperienced deputies and that may also be part of the reason why there is an inordinate amount of adversarial confrontations between some of the Compton residents and the sheriff deputies. The mayor, who is presently a deputy district attorney, has also been a police officer and he apparently is not speaking in a vacuum; he has personal knowledge about the situation. He understands the problems of law enforcement from both sides of the system.
Perrodin continued, “I never made it a secret, I always thought that it would be best to have your own police department. We haven’t conducted a fiscal study but if the city has enough money and if it’s something that we believe our constituents want, definitely we’re going to have our own police department. We won’t be bringing back Compton P. D. per se. There are a lot of aspects to this; we can have a metropolitan-type police department similar to Washington and Las Vegas where we can also incorporate the Compton Unified School District police and the Compton College police. We want to make it comprehensive so if it does happen, it is something that the citizens want.”
Though the study seems to be in the formative stages, the soundness of the approach suggests that the mayor and the other elected officials want to make sure that bringing back the Compton Police Department and all of the added responsibilities—economic and otherwise—would be in the best interest of the residents and the businesses, and that it would be done after a very comprehensive feasibility study.
The mayor concluded by explaining that having its own police department is one of the ways for Compton to attract new businesses and bring stability to the community, “You have to have a comprehensive police department because we have to deal with the whole city, not separate entities and it would help in trying to stop the negative image being portrayed by Compton being the city of gangster rap. We are birthing a new Compton and in order to birth a new Compton, there’s going to be pain and the citizens of Compton deserve the very best.”
The Sentinel also asked former Compton Police Chief Joseph T. Rouzan Jr. to comment on the proposed policy study, since he led that department and would be familiar with the mechanics of re-establishing it as a viable entity. He said, “They (the city of Compton) are looking at the feasibility of bring back the (Compton Police) department, if they can do it economically.”