The Santa Monica Democratic Club is set to host District Attorney George Gascón and members of the city’s newly formed Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission next week for a virtual conversation that will cover efforts to reform the criminal justice system and local police departments.

The meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 30, according to Democratic Club President Jon Katz, who said Democratic Club members were early supporters of George Gascón’s campaign for District Attorney last year because they supported his push for change.

“The former DA failed to hold countless police officers accountable for their actions, resulting in hundreds of Black lives lost. Now that DA Gascón has been in office, accomplishing all of the reforms we elected him to enact, we were thrilled for the opportunity to welcome him back to the Club and discuss the progress so far,” Katz said, detailing how Gascón has been hard at work implementing policies that promote rehabilitation, eliminating cash bail for non-violent offenses, and ending the practice of transferring youths to adult courts as well as the use of the death penalty in LA County.

“With so many issues pertaining to public safety reform at the forefront of Santa Monica politics right now, we thought this would be the perfect time to bring him in to discuss these important issues pertaining to both criminal justice reform as well as public safety reform,” Katz said. “We look forward to hearing DA Gascón’s thoughts on the OIR Report pertaining to last May’s police actions, what the City should look for in hiring a new police chief, his thoughts on Sheriff Villanueva’s recent actions on the Venice Boardwalk, his interpretation of the ‘Defund The Police’ movement and other issues of top concern to our community.”

The event is one of many in the community that Gascón has made an effort to attend since he took office. He told the Daily Press earlier this month before talking to the Committee for Racial Justice that he recognizes how massive Los Angeles County is and many communities have interests that often overlap but are also very unique to a specific area.

“I want to understand those interests and be responsive to the needs of that community, large or small. It’s easy to lose sight of that fact when you are the head of a department in a county as large as Los Angeles,” Gascón said. “I am the District Attorney for ALL Angelenos. I want to meet members of the community who are impacted by our policies whenever possible. Their concerns are important to me.”

Gascón didn’t discuss next week’s conversation but he did reiterate his belief that transparency promotes accountability and boosts public trust.

“To that end, I have been meeting virtually with community-based organizations, law enforcement, local elected officials and faith leaders since my term began,” Gascón added, mentioning he is aware and supports the fact that Santa Monica created a Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission. “I believe that the reforms that are currently underway in Los Angeles County are imperative to advancing public safety.”

Katz reminded local residents that all Santa Monica Democratic Club meetings are free and open to the public.

“Even if you’re not sure where you stand on DA George Gascón, criminal justice reform, police oversight, or other topics, this is your opportunity to attend and listen,” Katz said. “Perhaps you will learn something; perhaps, even, you will change your mind.”

The Club will also be considering several pieces of state legislation for consideration of endorsement. More information on the event and a form to RSVP can be found at https://forms.gle/h6UmeeZ297vrrfRt6 or smdems.com.

Brennon@smdp.com