Submitted by the Santa Monica Police Officers Association
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 (PSROC). The Santa Monica Police Officers Association (SMPOA) worked with city staff on crafting that ordinance and the SMPOA’s member officers have worked to cooperate with and support the commission since its inception.
When the commission was formed, the SMPOA said, “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.”
The SMPOA stands by that statement and embraces the kind of meaningful oversight and collaboration that can come from a positive working relationship with the PSROC.
However, the SMPOA is disappointed by the lack of commitment to public service and disinterest shown by some commissioners in fulfilling their obligations as members of the PSROC.
Members of the PSROC are required to complete training conducted by the Santa Monica Police Department. This training is meant to give commissioners an understanding of department practices and procedures as well as access to the public safety professionals to whom they are providing oversight, so that they gain a better perspective and understanding as they discharge their important function as commissioners.
Despite numerous extensions on the deadline to complete this training since 2021, and the SMPD having made every accommodation that has been asked for as it relates to safety and fair access, some commissioners have simply refused to do it. These commissioners have publicly decried the training even after accepting it as a condition of their service.
As public servants, we are deeply disappointed in this behavior and in the city staff members that have enabled it. Public service is a sacred duty and making a mockery of it to advance a personal agenda is an insult to the community.
The public deserves accountability. In a democracy, we the people are entitled to it. Accountability relies on transparency. The public needs to know that its elected, appointed, and sworn leaders are held to ethical and professional standards that result from proper training as conditions of accepting their roles in service. Negligence in completing these requirements undermines public accountability and our most basic self-governing principles.
The members of the SMPOA take the ongoing training we receive on a wide variety of issues including de-escalation, ethics, and implicit bias very seriously. It’s important for us to be the best public servants we can be. The members of the PSROC need to take their training obligations equally seriously so that they can gain the perspective they need and that is required of them to fulfill the promise they made to our community. Those who don’t wish to fulfill their obligations should step aside so that the PSROC can be comprised entirely of citizens committed to public service.