The Santa Monica Police Officers Association had threatened to sue the city after local leaders denied a grievance for overtime pay for Lieutenants and Captains during the May protests. And while the City of Santa Monica accepts no responsibility, City Council did decide Tuesday to pay $85,000 to avoid further fees from future litigation.

“On or about May 31, 2020, then Chief of Police Cynthia Renaud ordered all Lieutenants, Captains and the Acting Deputy Chief to work during a special event related to protests that occurred beginning May 31, 2020, through June 12, 2020, resulting in work full 18 hour days during the period of protests,” a claim by SMPOA states. By ordering all management personnel to work during the aforementioned tactical alert, those employees were clearly authorized by the Chief of Police to work the Special Event of the protests, which entitled them to straight time compensation for the hours worked outside of their regular work schedule and period.

“On or about June 25, 2020, the SMPOA filed a grievance on behalf of its individual employees ranked Lieutenant, Captain and Acting Deputy Chief,” a staff report states. The appeal was denied but the SMPOA has since sought to appeal the outcome of the grievance process through a petition for writ of mandate.

In addition to the work performed, the union also requests attorneys fees and costs incurred while pursuing this matter. “The remedy being requested is to pay all employees in the positions of Police Captain, Police Lieutenant and Acting Deputy Chief overtime compensation in the form of straight time, pay for all time work outside of the regular work schedule and/or work period during the special events…”

After a few hours of discussing the matter and others in closed session, City Attorney George Cardona said, “The City does not admit the allegation or any entitlement to overtime compensation. But to avoid the expense and burden of further litigation, we recommend settlement in the amount of $85,000,” coupled with an agreed upon modification that will narrow the definition of Special Event in a previously approved Memorandum of Understanding.

Council voted 7-0 to approve staff’s recommendation. The full grievance and staff report can be viewed online at https://bit.ly/2WTVQ0C.

brennon@smdp.com