Santa Monica police say “no specific intelligence of any unrest”
By Sam Catanzaro
Santa Monica police are increasing deployment of officers as the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd goes to the jury in Minneapolis.
On Monday, the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin went to the hands of a 12 person jury. Chauvin is on trial for killing George Floyd on Memorial Day last year. The event sparked protests across the country, many of which turned destructive, including in Santa Monica.
On May 31, 2020 in Santa Monica rioters–taking advantage of a peaceful protest against the killing of Floyd–looted hundreds of Santa Monica businesses. The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) was criticized for its response to the event, at one point firing tear gas and rubber bullets on a crowd of protestors while just blocks away looters tore through downtown Santa Monica. Former SMPD Chief Cynthia Renaud stepped-down months later due to her handling of the unrest.
With the trial wrapping up, police departments across the country are bracing for potential unrest again when a verdict is released. On Monday, SMPD Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks released a video message laying out preparations for any potential unrest.
“In the coming week, the Minneapolis jury will begin deliberations in the criminal trial of the officer involved in the death of Mr. Floyd. Because these deliberations and, very likely, the verdict will occur just as the initial stages of the case against the officer- involved in the death of Mr. Wright take place, we here at the Santa Monica Police Department certainly understand that you may be concerned about the safety of our community,” Seabrooks said, referencing the recent fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis-adjacent city.
According to Seabrooks, as of Monday the Department does not have any specific information or intelligence of potential unrest, however it is still preparing to respond if anything changes.
“We have been closely monitoring the events in Minneapolis and within our region. As we make other preparations which include multi-agency collaborations and internal systems review, I get to tell you as of this recording, there has been no indication of any threats or any activities specifically targeting our community,” Seabrooks said. “Beginning April 16th, the Police Department will begin a gradual increase in its field-based staffing. You will see our enhanced presence throughout our community.”
“Because peaceful assembly, as expressive conduct, is protected by the 1st Amendment, the Santa Monica Police Department is committed to assisting and facilitating in this peaceful freedom of expression,” Seabrooks added.
The SMPD also announced an increase in its intelligence unit. Following the May 31 unrest, the SMPD came under fire for ignoring reports on social media that looters were planning on targeting Santa Monica.
In her video message, Seabrooks advised businesses to refer to an emergency preparedness checklist prepared by Downtown Santa Monica Inc (DTSM). Among the steps businesses are encouraged to take include reviewing insurance policies, taking inventory, clearing outside areas during an emergency event and obtaining boards for storefronts. In addition, the checklist (embedded above), advises the sharing of contact details between neighboring businesses, including after-hours phone numbers.
DTSM also shared information about hiring private security,
“If you are interested in hiring private security please follow state guidelines and ensure the security guard has their appropriate guard card, is licensed to carry firearms (if you elect to have an armed guard) and has gone through the appropriate background check to verify they are legitimately qualified to carry a firearm,” DTSM wrote.