File photo

The Santa Monica Coalition for Police Reform (CPR) wishes to express publicly our full support for the recommendations of the Santa Monica Public Safety Reform Advisory Committee (the Committee), and gratitude to the 15 members of the Committee.  

We (the CPR), a local group that has studied and sought to work collaboratively with the City Manager and the Santa Monica Police Department towards police reform for 5 years, endorse enthusiastically all of the Committee’s Recommendations, including every one of the principles and specific recommendations.  We urge the City Council to adopt all of the Principles and Recommendations set forth in the Committee’s Report.*   

The principles and recommendations specified by the Committee form the basis for a great future for our city, our Police Department and public safety overall, and we urge the council to adopt them all, and not just those laid out in the staff report.  The principles include: Community Well-Being, Accountability and Transparency, Innovation, Best Practices, De-escalation and Minimal Use of Force, Equity, and Trust.  

The recommendations made by the committee include:  

  • Civilian Oversight of SMPD.    We note that, according to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement  (https://www.nacole.org), meaningful civilian oversight is independent, proactive, community driven, empowered, transparent, iterative and individualized. It is an investment in our communities.  We believe that meaningful civilian oversight as  set forth in the Committee’s Recommendations will lead to the kind of collaborative community-based public safety program  desired by all Santa Monicans.
  • Multiple important recommendations specific to SMPD including updating use of force policies to the very best 21st century practices. This includes policies, training and practices of proportional use of force only when necessary, community policing, bias awareness and anti-bias training, and mental health programs.
  • Alternate response systems for many calls that are better handled by interdisciplinary teams and professionals other than police.
  • Restorative justice practices, community involvement and responsibility, including addressing bias and racism in Santa Monica.   
  • Budgetary allocations that reflect the priorities of the community and are equitable and effective.  Specifically, address the imbalance created during the Covid-induced budget slashing by rebalancing the budget cuts to provide needed social services, which will require reducing the police budget so that budget cuts will have been both equitable and aligned with priorities.   More specifically, restore some of the library budget and critical social services. 

Following all of the Committee’s recommendations will provide a basis for us to mold a just and sound approach to public safety by integrating policing into an overall system that ensures youth, resident and business well-being.  

We note that the staff recommendations scheduled to be presented at the September 8 City Council Meeting do not address fully the recommendations, or adhere to all of the principles set forth in the Committee’s document.  The recommendations in the staff report are not, in our opinion, sufficient to move us towards holistic public safety reform with the goal of overall community well-being and safety for all Santa Monicans, businesses and visitors. 

Public safety is not just a police matter. It involves all of us, and it requires us to consider our neighbors and our visitors as our friends and our guests.  It requires us to build community connections for all and with all Santa Monicans, and to treat everyone with the same respect and care.  This means that we must and shall address and redress racism and bias not just as it manifests from our police department, but across our community as a whole.  It also means that our police department must be part of our community, and that requires work from all of us, and not just the police.  

In summary, we, the members of the Santa Monica Coalition for Police Reform urge the City Council to adopt  all of the Recommendations of the Public Safety Reform Advisory Committee.  We have a tremendous amount of work to do, and it cannot wait.  Everyone in Santa Monica needs to feel safe. Everyone in Santa Monica needs to be safe.  

Thank you for your consideration. 

Sincerely, 

The  Santa Monica Coalition for Police Reform

*City Council Meeting of September 8, 2020, Agenda Item 8A.  To read the report go to 

http://santamonicacityca.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=1239 and download  the materials available under Agenda item 8.