October 21, 2020

Want to know why our police chief abruptly “retired?”  

So do we. But our City Council won’t tell us.

This is not some routine personnel matter of a police chief announcing her retirement after five years on the job. It obviously stems from the events of May 31st when Santa Monicans witnessed the destruction of our downtown for hours while our police engaged largely peaceful protesters instead of looters. 

There has never been an event of this magnitude in our City - one in which, for over five months, residents have been asking for answers and been told – virtually nothing. More recently, City Council incumbents were telling the community in candidate forums that they would provide no information as to when an investigative report on the May 31st debacle would be available or even a summary of what occurred that day and what went wrong. 

Then suddenly, last Friday, the City announced that our police chief was leaving and scheduled a Council hearing for the next day (a Saturday) to announce a severance agreement with the chief.  And no one from the City Manager to the City Attorney to the City Council explained what the heck was going on. The City Council didn’t even inquire about the chief’s “retirement" or put anything enlightening on the public record.  

While the City Council may not be curious why the Chief is so abruptly leaving, residents do have some important questions:

1) Why is the Chief leaving now - five months AFTER the May 31st events, just before the Council incumbents seek re-election and before the investigative report is completed?

2) Why is she leaving before ANY disclosure of any of the underlying facts and investigation into how the City handled that day’s events? (* see below)

3) Is anyone ever going to be held accountable for the loss and trauma our City underwent that day?

4) Why was it necessary for the City Council to approve a $100,000 severance payment to the police chief in order to get her ongoing cooperation for any investigation?

5) If the police chief hadn’t agreed to “retire” and had not been given $100,000 as severance, would the police chief be suing the City and laying the facts of that day bare?

The ongoing secrecy about these events is unacceptable. The chief’s severance and pension are paid for by Santa Monica residents. It has never been more important for the City Council to be transparent. It needs to provide answers to these crucial questions NOW, so that residents can understand the facts BEFORE voting on the fates of our incumbent Council members who approved this deal. 

 Let’s hold them accountable.

*In the aftermath, The Lookout News reported on how the police could have prevented the looting and what went wrong.