Photo by Matthew Hall.

The Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission (PSROC) has submitted a draft report regarding recommendations to reform public safety in the city despite failing to formally endorse the work.

The Commission has been working on a document that incorporates recommendations made by the OIR group following last year’s riots, responses from SMPD and follow-up plans by the Commission itself. However, a persistent lack of participation has made it difficult to take formal votes.

Commission chair George Brown still submitted the draft report Friday morning.

“Last night the Commission voted 5-4 in favor of the draft Report to City Council re OIR Group Findings on May 31, 2020 Protests,” Brown said in a letter to the city council. “Because our Commission has 11 members, and two were absent, we were unable to achieve the six-vote threshold required for official action. Nevertheless, the Draft Report reflects the Chair’s intended plan for the direction of the Commission and I believe it is useful to share it with the City Council.”

A majority is required to formally accept the draft report which would have been six votes. Commissioners Miranda McLaughlin-Basseri and Samantha Mota were missing resulting in the split decision.

According to Brown’s letter, one unnamed member has several unexcused absences and the lack of participation made finalizing the report harder than it should have been and PSROC members took notice.

When the Commission debated calling the missing members to ask for their vote, some questioned if they would be able to do so.

“I don’t want to draw any conclusions as to whether or not we’ve reached out to the commissioners that are not here today,” Commissioner Jamie Cruz said. “Perhaps they thoroughly went over the report. Think it’s already been said that, you know, they may not have. So all in all, with people’s cameras off, I don’t even know if they’re there. As you know some commissioners have their cameras off. So, you know, I think it’s just important to be consistent.”

The two newest members of the Commission, Joseph Palazzolo and Luis Ramirez voted against the Draft Report but did not offer an alternative for the Commission to meet its obligations. George Centeno and Manju Raman were also among the no votes. The main differences sprouted from the language used in the latest draft.

“I disagreed with the term using ‘opportunistic’ to describe the looting that took place. I have three quotes here from the OIR report that sort of poo poo that idea, that it was opportunistic,” Commissioner Palazzolo said.

Palazzolo said the report cited small factions of unlawful protesters who were engaged in scattered acts of aggression while some of the looting was decidedly organized. He said the OIR report specifically cited social media posts prior to the incident as evidence the crimes had been pre-planned.

Commissioners will try yet again to hammer out a finalized draft pertaining to the riots of 2020 later this month. For more information on the PSROC, visit: https://www.santamonica.gov/public-safety-reform-and-oversight-commission

daniel@smdp.com