By Sam Zou
OAKLAND, CA – California Attorney General Rob Bonta last week announced the official establishment of the Office of Community Awareness, Response, and Engagement (CARE) within the Department of Justice.
During his statement, Bonta reiterated CARE’s commitment to including more diverse communities and stakeholders in the process of the state’s work, especially within the justice department.
Mainly, he said, CARE works in communication with three parties on a daily basis: the community organizations who strive to advance justice, state and local elected officials, and finally all members of the public.
The AG office pledged to include “historically marginalized and underrepresented communities” and “fight for environmental, economic, and social justice.” The new office will also coordinate with the DOJ’s Office of Native American Affairs to guarantee community support for the indigenous populations.
“I am committed to using the tools and resources of this office to stand up for all Californians,” announced Bonta as he noted the importance of addressing historical and systemic inequalities in California through transparency, community engagement, and stakeholder collaboration.
Acting as a medium between the public and the DOJ, Bonta explained that CARE will help citizens better understand the ongoing actions or policies initiated by the DOJ and how they might benefit the community.
By providing key information and promoting constant communication with the community stakeholders, Bonta believes that CARE will promote transparency and clarity on many important issues such as access to the Victims’ Services Unit (VSU) and the Public Inquiry Unit (PIU).
In fact, Bonta announced that the new office will directly oversee the two services since they prove to be “instrumental in fostering open communication with partners across the state to, where appropriate, help provide key information and clarity.”
Thus, with help from CARE, Bonta suggests that the citizens will make greater use of these services, helping crime victims and their families understand every step in the criminal process.
There are several priorities Bonta suggested the CARE to take as it launches.
First, CARE’s primary task is to establish a port of communication between the public and DOJ’s inner workings, promoting mutual understanding and information transparency.
Second and third, the new office will build engaging relationships with the historically marginalized and underrepresented communities and actively help them maneuver through the DOJ’s actions and policies.
Fourth, CARE acts as a medium between the DOJ and the public, informing and interpreting the public on the DOJ’s recent policies and programs.
To achieve these ambitions, Bonta’s press release suggested four important and initial steps that CARE should take.
First, by hosting informational events throughout California, the general public will get informed.
Second, by actively looking to cooperate with the local community and engaging in community events and meetings, the office can identify the historically underrepresented communities.
Third, CARE will hold regular, regional office hours to answer any questions from the general public.
Fourth, CARE will also form a “community advisory panel” that can help inform citizens on the DOJ’s policies and practices.
“[I]t is more important than ever that we take steps to strengthen trust and increase transparency. CARE will work to do exactly that,” asserted Attorney General Bonta as he pledged to ensure equal access to justice from all communities.