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Santa Monica Police to Be Paid Overtime Related to May 31 Riots

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By Jorge Casuso

December 30, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday voted to pay Santa Monica police lieutenants and captains $85,000 in overtime for hours worked related to the May 31 riots.

After discussing the claim in a special closed session, the Council unanimously approved settling the claim filed by the Police Officers Association (POA) alleging that the officers are entitled to overtime compensation under the union contract.

The overtime compensation covers hours worked between May 30 and June 13, including the handling of the riots that came under harsh criticism after stores were looted and protesters met with force ("EXTRA! -- Santa Monica Demonstration Turns Violent, Looters Ransack Stores," June 1, 2020).

"The City does not admit the allegation, or any entitlement to overtime compensation, but to avoid the expense and burden of further litigation, we recommend settlement," City Attorney George Cardona reported out of closed session.

The Council also modified its contract with the police union to "narrow the definition of 'special event,'" Cardona said.

The settlement leaves in place the union's "ability to grieve and challenge a determination as to whether there has been a 'special event' permitting overtime compensation for Lieutenants and Captains," Cardona said.

It also provides discretion to the the Police Chief "subject to budget constraints" to pay overtime "under extraordinary circumstances that require the frequent scheduling of extra shifts over an extended period of time."

The "extraordinary circumstances" must be "as a result of operational needs or as a result of an extended period of emergency," according to the contract modification.

The change also places "strict limits on SMPOA’s ability to grieve or challenge a determination by the SMPD Chief with respect to overtime compensation premised on extraordinary circumstances."

The settlement comes after SMPD came under intense fire for its handling of the May 31 riots.

A Lookout investigation found the Department was unprepared for the bands of violent outlaws who swarmed into the city, looting 76 stores and damaging a total of 220 businesses, most of them in the Downtown area ("PART I -- Santa Monica Police Could Have Prevented Looting Spree, Former Top Officials Say," June 10, 2020).

SMPD was also criticized for using force against demonstrators protesting the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, which triggered nationwide uprisings.

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