Official Statement of the Santa Monica Police Officers Association on the OIR report
The Santa Monica Police Officers Association is grateful for the investigative work done by the OIR group into the events of May 31, 2020. The resulting report is a document our organization and its members have carefully reviewed, and policy changes based on its recommendations that will equip our department to best serve the public’s safety will be wholeheartedly embraced.
However, it is important to note that only 13 officers of the more than 200 public safety personnel deployed that day were interviewed for the report. The events of the day were traumatic and dangerous for most of those deployed and their experiences were widely varied. Though we think this report begins to tell the story of what happened that day, what it isn’t is a complete and total accounting of the narrative.
When public safety emergencies arise like the events that unfolded on May 31, preparedness and leadership are key to averting crisis escalation. We believe that there were critical failures in both areas on that day.
Former Santa Monica Police Chief Cynthia Renaud since taking the helm of the department made the operating budget her primary focus. As citizens I’m sure we all appreciate bureaucratic fiscal responsibility, however, the top priority of a Police Chief needs to be public safety.
On May 31st, line officers in the SMPD were left flat-footed and unprepared due to Chief Renaud’s decision not to place the department on tactical alert despite numerous indications that such a state of readiness was necessary. Tactical alert would have required overtime compensation and the activation of other resources necessitating additional budgetary commitments that Chief Renaud simply wasn’t willing to make.
This lack of tactical alert status created a situation in which officers were playing catch-up all day, often self-deploying with little or no direction. In spite of this, it’s important to note that the day ended with no significant physical injuries to officers or civilians, a testament to the actions under immense pressure of the line officers in the field.
Moreover, as the OIR report pointed out, Chief’s Renaud’s inexplicable decisions to deploy command staff into the field further exacerbated the leadership void and substantially increased confusion in an already chaotic situation.
Ultimately, we believe that this near abdication of leadership from the department’s top post was largely responsible for tumult of the day.
The members of the Santa Monica Police Officers Association look forward to new leadership that ensures public safety is our top priority, are committed to progressive reform, and are eager to continue the dialogue with our community that will forge lasting relationships with those who we protect and serve.