SM Police Chief Cynthia Renaud. File photo.

Santa Monica Police Chief Cynthia Renaud will depart the city in just over one week.

Interim City Manager Lane Dilg and Police Chief Cynthia Renaud jointly announced the Chief’s retirement, effective October 25, in an email sent out Friday morning. Renaud will be replaced by former chief Jacqueline Seabrooks who will return as Interim Chief.

“Chief Renaud is a skilled law enforcement leader who has served Santa Monica with dedication during her tenure,” said Interim City Manager Dilg in a statement. “During a time when our City, our nation, and our law enforcement communities have faced unprecedented challenges, Chief Renaud has served this community tirelessly.  We are grateful for her service in these historic times.”  

Her departure comes after significant criticism of the department’s response to protests and looting in the city. Large groups of criminals flooded Santa Monica in May following a peaceful protest for racial justice. While significant looting occurred in the Downtown area, SMPD deployed officers to confront ongoing protests including the use of tear gas and rubber bullets. Eventually, National Guard troops were called in to restore order.

The Santa Monica Police Department, city leaders and the chief in specific have been criticized for focusing on the protests while criminals ransacked local businesses on May 31 of this year.

Santa Monicans were initially promised two reports about the incident. The first would be an after-action report listing the timeline and facts. The second would provide analysis of the facts. City officials said publicly that the first report would be finished in August of this year but the police department said it was unable to prepare the document and handle regular police work. In response, council authorized staff to hire a third party company to combine both reports into a single document.

The OIR group was recently selected for the role.

Chief Renaud came to Santa Monica in April 2018. After several years of increases in crime, SMPD reported a 16% decrease last year and the city’s announcement of her departure praised her work here.

“Chief Renaud led the Santa Monica Police Department through regional changes and adapted operations, including increasing the number of specially trained officers who support citywide efforts to address regional homelessness, leading the Department during COVID-19 and taking the first steps to advance public safety reform,” it said. “However, recognizing that recent events both here in Santa Monica and around the nation have strained community-police relations, Chief Renaud has made the decision to step aside so that the Santa Monica Police Department can continue to move forward.”

Chief Renaud will assume the presidency of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) on October 23.  She was chosen to lead that organization from among its 31,000 members in 165 nations.

“Serving as Chief in Santa Monica has been one of the highlights of my career,” Chief Renaud said. “I am proud of our record over the past two years in times of unprecedented scrutiny and challenge for law enforcement.  In my role as President of the IACP, I will be focused on rebuilding the relationships of trust on which all successful law enforcement is based.  I am grateful to the men and women of the Santa Monica Police Department for the honor of leading them and to the City of Santa Monica for choosing me for this opportunity.” 

“The Chief’s resignation may leave unanswered questions about May 31st, but we remain committed to a thorough and transparent accounting of that day’s events,” said Mayor McKeown. “We have a contract with the OIR Group, and they are already at work.  Meanwhile, Santa Monica is fortunate to welcome back Jackie Seabrooks, under whose interim leadership our police reform work will continue.”

Chief Renaud’s last day will be October 25. Seabrooks will start on October 26 as Interim Chief of Police.

“No one knows the Santa Monica community and Santa Monica Police Department like our friend and longtime leader, Jackie Seabrooks,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg in a statement. “This is a critical moment for Santa Monica. I have every confidence in Chief Seabrooks and look forward to working together to provide for community safety and wellbeing, as well as to advance public safety reform work underway.” 

Seabrooks retired from Santa Monica in September 2017, where she began her career in 1982, and spent 30 of her 36 years in law enforcement. 

“I am certainly humbled at being asked to once again serve the Santa Monica community,” said Seabrooks. “I am equally excited to begin working alongside the women and men of the Santa Monica Police Department as we continue to focus our attention on all facets of community safety during these unprecedented times.”