Official Statement of the Santa Monica Police Officers Association on the Formation of the Public Safety Reform & Oversight Commission
On February 2, 2021, Santa Monica City Council adopted an ordinance adding Santa Monica Municipal Code Chapter 2.50 to establish a public safety reform and oversight commission.
In advance of the adoption of this ordinance The Santa Monica Police Officers Association (SMPOA) made repeated efforts to communicate the association’s desire to partner with the City in the formation of the Oversight Commission and Inspector General. In a letter to interim City Manager Lane Dilg on November 19, 2020 the SMPOA wrote:
“Our concern is not the creation of a police oversight commission, but rather the specific exclusion of public safety personnel in its conception. The members of the Santa Monica Police Officers Association know that now is the time to reimagine our ideas about Public Safety. We don’t just want to meet this moment, we want to lead it. We want our department to be a model of the kind of meaningful reform that can be achieved through community collaboration; however, currently we simply aren’t represented. Moreover, if we are to achieve systematic change, we certainly aren’t going to get there through unilateral imposition. We need to get there together.
We are of the belief that there’s much more that binds our community together than separates us and we want to foster a sense of connectedness to the people we serve. We implore you, give us an opportunity to stand with our fellow community members to enact meaningful reforms that will make Santa Monica a leader in community driven public safety.”
Despite this and several other expressions of the SMPOA’s desire to be a part of this process, the ordinance was adopted without any notification or inclusion of the board of directors of the SMPOA.
On February 17, 2021, counsel for the SMPOA wrote to inform Santa Monica City Council and Interim City Manager Dilg that not only does the SMPOA wish to be a part of the process, but that it is legally entitled to do so in accordance with the Myers-Milias-Brown Act.
The 219 sworn public servants represented by the SMPOA are committed to a safe and equitable Santa Monica where the rights of all people are protected. Excluding certain groups from the public policy making process is antithetical to our values as an inclusive community, results in inadequate policy and in this case is simply illegal.
We urge immediate action by the Santa Monica City Council to direct Interim City Manager Dilg to engage the SMPOA on these important issues in advance of the commission’s formation. There is still time to involve public safety professionals in public safety policy making and ultimately ensure the best outcome for our community.