Crime spiked during the riot last year but an increase in riot-related calls was offset by a decrease due to pandemic closures.

It’s been nearly a year since large groups of people flooded Santa Monica after a peaceful protest to loot stores located in the Downtown area, but city leaders and residents are close to having an after-action report that details and analyzes what exactly transpired on May 31, 2020, and why.

During last year’s chaos, which erupted shortly after a protest relating to the murder of George Floyd, SMPD deployed officers who would use tear gas and rubber bullets before National Guard troops were eventually called in to restore order.

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 an analysis of the facts. But when the Santa Monica Police Department said it was unable to prepare the document and handle regular police work, OIR Group was tasked with analyzing the events that led up to and followed the civil unrest that occurred in the city.

In the months since, Michael Gennaco, a former federal prosecutor who is heading the after-action analysis efforts, and his peers at OIR Group have heard from dozens of residents who had firsthand information to provide, along with a large portion of police officers and even former City Councilmembers in an effort to compile as much information as possible.

“In addition, we made a zillion requests for information from the police department and the city,” Gennaco said, mentioning the materials received included a wealth of body camera footage from the officers, media reports that detailed the events right as they transpired, and a number of other pertinent visual sources.

“Once we accomplished the information-gathering phase and getting the pulse of the community, we then started doing an analysis so we took a look at best practices and we’re currently involved in writing a final report, which will essentially be the after-action report of the event and that will tell the story of what happened during the lead up to the incident. There will be a narrative of what occurred but also an analysis of what occurred that will include our assessment of the strength of the police department and the City’s response to the challenges of May 31. And then the aftermath and how the city rolled out information, responded to concerned queries and — this has been a little under the radar — but we’ll also look at how the department handled subsequent protests in the several ensuing days or weeks after, after May 31,” Gennaco said, adding, “We’ll probably wait for the report to unfold before we get into some of the specific details.”

But there will be a lot of information put forth to the public because all involved parties have been very cooperative throughout the process.

“We’re appreciative of that; otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to do our work,” Gennaco said, noting the undertaking has been a massive project because it involves analyzing the decision-making and activity of scores of officers who had their body-worn cameras running. “So, there’s a lot of material to digest, and it spanned the course of several hours so the challenges were significant. But it’s not our first rodeo in this area and so we’re well on our way to finalizing everything. And my understanding is we’re expected to present a high-level report and answer any questions that Council might have during an upcoming Council meeting in May.”

From there, it will be in the hands of city leaders to determine how to move forward.

Brennon@smdp.com