By Toi Creel ]
The City of Santa Monica’s Police union is fighting to be included in a committee meant to represent the public.
The Santa Monica Police Officers Association (SMPOA) says they will sue the city if they are not allowed to take part “as a partner” in the Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission. The Commission was created by City Council last month, in large part due to the events of May 31 that rattled Santa Monica.
SMPOA isued a staement on Tuesday February 23rd saying that the commission was “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.”
The statement was issued one week after a letter was sent to City Council from SMPOA attorneys Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver, PC, a firm that represents safety and peace officers. In the letter, SMPOA alleges that they were “not provided any prior notice” before the Commission was created nor did they receive notice Council also voted to hire an Inspector General as part of the Commission. They also allege SMPOA attempt’s to meet with City Officials have been repeatedly ignored.
In a statement issued Tuesday February 23rd, City officials said they have worked to include members of the community and the Police Department, some of which actually hold SMPOA leadership roles. Attorneys for the SMPOA say that’s not enough.
“The input of the Police Department or individual employees is not the equivalent of the SMPOA, which has been formally recognized by the City for this role of bargaining representative and must execute its decisions through the Board of Directors as governed by its bylaws,” attorneys said.
Attorneys say the Commission is required by law (California’s 2013 Meyers-Milias-Brown Act) to allow SMPOA to participate. The law was put in place to maintain “uniform and orderly methods of communication between employees and the public agencies by which they are employed.”
The City has countered back and said because the Commission doesn’t have a direct role in investigations or carrying out disciplinary matters, only making recommendations, the role of SMPOA isn’t necessary. This comes following a November 4th letter requesting a meeting sent to Interim City Manager Lane Dilg,
In addition to the voting on the Commission, City Council also voted for an Inspector General to be hired, paid from funds reallocated SMPD budget, who must report and receive direction from the Commission. The salary for the Inspector General, as estimated by Dilg, will be around $200,000 to $225,000 a year starting with a deduction over time.
After its first meeting, the Commission has 150 days to draft its first set of recommendations to the Police Chief, City Manager and City Council.