By Jacqueline Seabrooks
I am honored and humbled to be asked to return home to the City of Santa Monica to serve as your Interim Chief of Police. I want to express my deep appreciation for retiring Chief Cynthia Renaud and her leadership of the department these past few years. As I step into this role, my primary priorities will be to provide for the safety and wellbeing of the Santa Monica community.
Although in many respects I am coming home, I realize I am returning to a very different environment. 2020 has been a tumultuous year for everyone as we’ve all had to adjust to a new way of life during the COVID-19 health emergency, the resulting economic uncertainties, and the national call for social justice and police reform in the aftermath of wide-ranging social unrest. In light of these issues, it’s with both my heart and my head that I’ve agreed to come out of retirement to serve Santa Monica in this moment. My deep appreciation for the Santa Monica community and my experience leading the talented and dedicated women and men of the Police Department will contribute to a seamless transition.
I’m eager to work alongside Interim City Manager Lane Dilg as she leads our community’s efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. Now, more than ever, this is important work. A central tenet of my approach to policing is strong community-police ties. The relationships between this community and its Police Department made my previous service quite rewarding. As I am sure you did, I found the events of May 31 to be quite painful. In speaking on behalf of the Police Department, I want to assure you that we are committed to pushing up our sleeves and participating in the healing work necessary to restore the trust and confidence of this community even as we intently focus our attention on crime, homelessness, and other quality of life concerns.
Looking ahead, I am committed to supporting a robust, objective, and transparent after-action review led by OIR Group. I am certain this review will be a valuable resource to promote learning opportunities that will prove beneficial as we move forward. And, in moving forward, my leadership will continue to be firmly rooted in the pillars of 21st century policing. In particular, the focus will be on fostering trust with the community and within the department, strong policy and oversight, the strategic use of technology to supplement traditional crime reduction methods, robust staff training and education, and ensuring the safety and wellness of our officers as we carry out our mission of protecting our community.
It’s through the lens of healing and collaboration that I will view the ongoing work on police reform. As I familiarize myself with recent discussions with the community, the Public Safety Reform Advisory Committee, the City Council, and others, it’s my hope that we can work swiftly to make impactful, yet balanced, improvements which ultimately reflect the needs of today’s Santa Monica. There is no magic formula, no guarantees or quick fixes associated with this work; therefore, I will lean on those optimized practices I’ve identified through my involvement with the Institute for American Police Reform and other entities in addressing existing commitments.
As the election approaches in an unprecedented year, I want to be sure our community knows the women and men of the Santa Monica Police Department are here and will remain highly visible as we work to keep you safe. Our safety work will include collaborations with our fellow City departments and County partners with the goal being to support a safe and fair electoral process. As always, remember that if you have information that you believe may be useful to SMPD, please email email@example.com.
As your returning Chief, I am here to listen to you, learn with you, and, as always, to do the work necessary to contribute to a safer Santa Monica. I’ll see you around town.
Jacqueline Seabrooks is the interim Chief of Police