Council is mounting a last ditch effort to recruit young and racially diverse residents for the soon to be formed Public Safety Reform Oversight Commission (PSROC).

Appointments to the PSROC were scheduled for discussion at the April 13 council meeting but the decision was continued after council members said the applicant pool wasn’t deep enough to meet the needs of the organization.

The PSROC was developed in response to the broader push for police reform at a national level and specific concerns about Santa Monica’s police department following the May 31 protests and riot. The group will review and make recommendations on a variety of public safety topics including use of force, public outreach, transparency and budget. The 11-member group will serve staggered four years terms and meet at least once a month.

According to the staff report, 52 people applied for the commission. However, two seats are reserved for residents aged 18-22 years and no applicants filed paperwork by the deadline for those seats. In addition, council said they wanted a more racially diverse pool.

Councilwoman Kristin McCowan said the city had failed to conduct enough outreach to fill the slots, particularly to residents who do not speak English as a primary language.

“52 applicants does not say to me that we are where we should have been,” she said.

Mayor Himmelrich agreed.

“I just want to say that I agree with Councilmember McCowan. I don’t find enough diversity, either in terms of, as she said, Latino candidates or Asian candidates,” she said. “I think that this board should be fairly representative of the population of our city. And I think we should be getting more candidates and more women. So all of those things I think should be on this list.”

Councilman Kevin McKeown disagreed with a delay in selecting the commission, even without the youth candidates.

“I won’t be supporting the motion and I strongly object you are postponing these appointments. This is something our community has wanted us to move on for a long, long time,” he said.

An initial proposal to reopen the application period for two weeks was shortened to one week with a deadline of Thursday, April 22.

Staff said extending the applications any longer would push approval past the next council meeting and everyone involved was eager to have the commission active as soon as possible.

“I would recommend Council that you open it for a week,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg. “We are running a Police Chief recruitment and we’d like to be able to have the search firm meet with the commission members. I think if you feel like we can get the candidates you want within a week, we will work on that.”

Dilg said staff had worked on securing youth applicants including outreach to Santa Monica College and the School District but those applicants were hard to find. While the Commission is pushed back a week, officials said the decision would have no impact on the long awaited report into SMPD’s response to the May 31 incident. That information is tentatively scheduled for a public hearing on May 11.

Applications are available online at https://www.santamonica.gov/public-safety-reform-and-oversight-commission

Editor@smdp.com.