By: Sergeant Erika Aklufi
Throughout the turbulence and social upheaval of the past 18 months, a scant few members of our community have had the opportunity to hear what Police Reform means to the officers who serve them. The din of the national narrative about law enforcement has effectively drowned out our community’s voices. What they would learn is that the sworn members of the SMPD believe that reform is progress, it is learning and teaching, it is listening and responding to calls for service as well as calls for change. Growth is central to the core mission of the SMPD and has been since our founding 125 years ago. The officers of the Santa Monica Police Department have been on the cutting edge of training as far back as the era when a new officer was hired, handed a gun, and sent to patrol with a seasoned officer as his only academy. Over the intervening years, our policies and procedures manual swelled to hundreds of pages and our department requires new recruits attend hundreds of hours of state and local training courses. The police must change in response to new laws enacted by congress, case decisions, and most importantly because the community is itself changing; we know we have succeeded because a current officer could never function using a policy manual from the 1990s let alone the 1950s or prior. The job title may have stayed the same, but there is little else from officers of SMPD’s past that can be recognized in the organization today. And if history could ever predict the future, there is no reason to doubt that the SMPD of the 2050s will be an even better honed and polished partner in Santa Monica’s welfare and public safety.