As part of the “2021 State of the City,” the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce held its annual Business Awards this week that bestowed praise on a select number of local businesses. The Chamber honored the following in accordance to the various categories:
Business of the Year – Winslow Drake
Restaurant of the Year – The Runway
Non-Profit of the Year – Cathedral City Senior Center
Volunteer of the Year – Thommy Kocan – Dinner with Patsi
Included in the chamber’s Business Awards was the coveted Mayor’s Award that is given to any business, organization, or individual deserving of equal high praise. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, former Mayor John Aguilar was unable to bestow the 2020 Mayor’s Award to Larry Davis, Forest Lawn Memorial Parks & Mortuaries, but was able to do so this year. Mr. Davis has a long history of providing incredible support for local charities and events as well as offering his services when the city faces its most difficult moments of a fallen police officer or city official.
For the 2021 Mayor’s Award, Mayor Raymond Gregory presented the honor to Police Chief George Crum for several reasons. First, Chief Crum’s showed tremendous leadership to the city and community by continuously working towards equality and building trust in a department whose mission is to serve and protect. Second, 2020 not only brought forth a devastating pandemic, one not seen in more than a hundred years, but it also brought forth a societal reawakening of racial inequalities still present in American society and a renewed desire to address them. One of the most tragic examples of this pervasive injustice was the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd who lost his life due to the excessive use of force by a police officer. The death of Mr. Floyd was just one more recent example of the unequal treatment many people of color experience that focused the spotlight on local law enforcement; the very same profession that he is empowered to serve and protect the American people. Floyd’s death spurred massive protests around the world, the Coachella Valley, and even here in Cathedral City on June 4th, 2020.
Faced with a protest directed at our city, Chief Crum showed courage in his willingness to engage, listen, and take a hard look at his department and profession, and then take affirmative steps to make change. Not only did Chief Crum lead a group of representatives from his organization to attend the protest, but he listened to what was being said, heard their anger, understood their outrage, and shared with them his commitment to policing better. His words to the protesters and the greater community did not ring hollow. Four days later, he banned locally one of the most controversial uses of force called the carotid choke hold. He was one of the leaders to make this change in Riverside County and throughout California. Within the next several months, Chief Crum continued to engage in discussions, culminating in a virtual study session workshop in which he reassured the community that he had reviewed the city’s current methods regarding use of force and eliminated any that would put our city in a precarious situation similar to what has been seen throughout our nation. Chief Crum is committed to doing his part to continue to address inequality and ensuring us that his department reflects the values of our community.
As Mayor Gregory stated, “this is a man that says what he means and means what he says.”