For two years, the Police Officers Association (POA) has thrown repeated roadblocks at the City’s effort to implement meaningful oversight and reform of the SMPD.

The Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission (PSROC) was established to provide oversight and reform to the police department. It is obvious to us that the POA is working to make sure the Commission is not effective.  This is a very common occurrence and not at all unique to Santa Monica.  And so far, our City Council has enabled it to happen. 

When the PSROC was established, the Police Union (POA) issued a statement saying they wanted the police officers to lead this moment.  Police officers cannot lead their own oversight.  No entity can lead their own oversight.  To be effective, an oversight commission needs to be independent.  But the POA objected to the exclusion of SMPD officers from the Commission. In 2021, to avoid a lawsuit, the city curtailed the Commission’s powers and agreed to revisions including mandatory training of commissioners.  The Commission members sought to attend the training to the best of their abilities.

The POA letter states that these 3 Commissioners refused the training. That is not the truth at all!  Each commissioner’s situation is a little different, but one of those targeted is Angela Scott. Here are some facts about her case:

Angela Scott missed one hour of the training sessions because it would have been unsafe for her to attend in person.   It was held during the pandemic, and it was held indoors.  She is immunocompromised and is the mother of a child who’s severely immunocompromised. Out of necessity, she requested to attend meetings virtually and she was refused ADA accommodations. Volunteer Public servants who serve on commissions should not have to risk their lives or the lives of their family members in order to serve their community. 

On May 27, the City Manager advised Commissioner Scott that the city would provide the training with the accommodations noted by the ADA Advisor. To date, training for Commissioner Scott has not been arranged. In the interest of completing training, Commissioner Scott has asked twice to make up for the traffic stop portion of the training by attending the Community Academy for that session. Each request has been denied with SMPD stating that she must attend the full academy which includes training that she has already completed and, in some cases, twice. They will not allow her to attend the academy to make up just the one single hour of training that she missed. Angela has shown her commitment to SMPD and reimagining policing by attending every virtual session offered, as a Committee member and Commissioner. This is more training than any other Commissioner. 

To insinuate that Commissioner Angela Scott “isn’t committed and/or isn’t doing her job” is an attempt to discredit the police reform work that she has been doing for the past two years. In fact, Commissioner Scott is the longest standing member of the Commission having been previously appointed to the Public Safety Reform Oversight Committee. As a PSROC member, she co-authored the 44-page policy and procedure recommendations for City Council on Police Reform following the May 31 protest and disruption. She is one of the most “active” members of the Commission – with a deep understanding of the mission and vision for reimagining public safety in Santa Monica. 

Commissioner Scott is Chair of the Protests & Crowd Management Standing Committee and collaborated with the Use of Force Subcommittee to help produce recommendations on approval of SMPD’s militarized equipment. In addition, Commissioner Scott actively participates as a member of the Reimagining Policing Standing Committee, and the Community Engagement Subcommittee, oftentimes leading discussions and encouraging community collaboration. You need only to view any and all of the videotaped PSROC meetings to see Commissioner Scott’s dedication and engagement to public safety. As a community voice, she’s rebuilding trust, truth and transparency by asking tough questions and expecting SMPD to be accountable, take ownership, and collaborate on community policing.

Why are these commissioners being put through such hoops by the POA?  Why does the POA have this much power?  Why are they threatening the city with lawsuits?  What are they afraid of?  If they truly want reform, they would welcome an independent oversight group.  It certainly doesn’t appear that is the case.

The POA is being allowed to derail the effectiveness of this important commission.  This happens in many communities.  It is one of the classic ways that the system works to protect a racist structure.  We hope that the City of Santa Monica can see what is happening and be bold enough to stop the POA from controlling this Commission.  The POA states that the PSROC is ineffective while at the same time working to ensure that is the case.  

The Steering Committee of the Committee for Racial Justice