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Official Statement of the SMPOA
 

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica

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Santa Monica College
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In recent weeks the Santa Monica Police Officers Association (SMPOA) has been engaged in numerous meetings with representatives from the City of Santa Monica to address an unfair labor practice charge filed against the City of Santa Monica with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) by the SMPOA.

The SMPOA alleged that the City failed to provide advance notice to the SMPOA prior to the City Council’s enactment of Santa Monica Municipal Code Chapter 2.50 establishing a public safety reform and oversight commission. The ordinance also established an office of inspector general with the authority to review misconduct investigations and associated disciplinary actions, review and publicly release confidential personnel file information, and make disciplinary recommendations.

Further, the SMPOA alleged that the City failed and refused to meet and confer in good faith over matters within the scope of representation, and significant and adverse impacts or effects on matters within the scope of representation, resulting from the City’s unilateral adoption of the ordinance.

In advance of the adoption of this ordinance the SMPOA made repeated efforts to communicate the association’s desire to partner with the City in the formation of the Oversight Commission and Inspector General. In a letter to interim City Manager Lane Dilg on November 19, 2020, the SMPOA wrote:

“Our concern is not the creation of a police oversight commission, but rather the specific exclusion of public safety personnel in its conception. The members of the Santa Monica Police Officers Association know that now is the time to reimagine our ideas about Public Safety.

“We don’t just want to meet this moment; we want to lead it. We want our department to be a model of the kind of meaningful reform that can be achieved through community collaboration; however, currently we simply aren’t represented. Moreover, if we are to achieve systematic change, we certainly aren’t going to get there through unilateral imposition. We need to get there together.

“We are of the belief that there’s much more that binds our community together than separates us and we want to foster a sense of connectedness to the people we serve. We implore you, give us an opportunity to stand with our fellow community members to enact meaningful reforms that will make Santa Monica a leader in community driven public safety.”

Despite this and several other expressions of the SMPOA’s desire to be a part of this process, these legitimate concerns were summarily dismissed by then City Manager Lane Dilg and the ordinance was adopted without any notification or inclusion of the board of directors of the SMPOA. The SMPOA was then left with no choice but to seek resolution through PERB.

Rather than seek injunctive relief on the above complaint which would have resulted in an immediate halt to the activities of the commission, SMPOA made the decision to engage the City in talks to amicably resolve the matter. There was nothing improper or untoward about this engagement, it was an act of good faith. We are confident that we will come to an agreed upon resolution that will lead to the community driven public safety outcomes we all want.

Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission Chair George Brown’s comments on this matter are disheartening, false and illustrate a clear misunderstanding of public sector employee collective bargaining rights. The notion that the SMPOA’s goal is to “kill the commission,” could not be farther from the truth. Our goal has and is to give the commission the perspective of a public safety professional. If there was an officer present on the commission, they could give fellow commissioners instant access to information, and provide immediate pertinent advice on the feasibility of policy recommendations from a public safety perspective as well as provide valuable institutional knowledge.

Moreover, on the eve of Labor Day weekend, we think it’s important to note that workers have rights and we’re fortunate that California law guarantees them. Our union, like the many others that form the backbone of labor in this country, exists to protect the rights of its members. When ordinances are enacted that change our workplace conditions and give personnel oversight to new parties, union membership is entitled to meet and confer. It’s important to note, that didn’t happen here. Mr. Brown and his rhetoric about “anti-democratic” tendencies seem to have missed the equal protection under the law part, a central tenant of our democracy

The sworn public servants represented by the SMPOA are committed to a safe and equitable Santa Monica where the rights of all people are protected. Excluding certain groups from the public policy making process is antithetical to our values as an inclusive community and results in inadequate public policy. We must do better, let’s come together and be the national model for community driven public safety that only a place as extraordinary as Santa Monica could be.


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