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Community Oversight

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The City of Santa Barbara seeks feedback on a draft ordinance that will guide its efforts in implementing a new civilian oversight system of the Police Department. The ordinance is an important step towards further strengthening accountability and transparency. This is an historical effort and the City’s first collaboration with the community on police oversight.

“The City strives for transparency and accountability in its operations, and community input is vital to make those efforts successful,” shared Barbara Andersen, Senior Assistant to the City Administrator. "It is critically important that we hear from you during this stage of the process and throughout the implementation of the new civilian oversight system."

The draft ordinance elevates and assigns new duties of police oversight to the long-standing five-member Fire & Police Commission. Among its new duties, the Commission will be receiving reports with data on the number and type of internal and external complaints received and subsequent action taken, including the number of officers disciplined and the level of discipline imposed. The Commission will also review and discuss with the Chief of Police, in open session, individual investigations when they become disclosable under the California Public Records Act. Moreover, the Commission will receive presentations from the Chief of Police concerning any Officer Involved Shootings once determinations of findings have been made by the agency conducting such an investigation.

The draft ordinance also prioritizes community participation and engagement as a key component of strengthening understanding of what our law enforcement officers are confronting every single day in ensuring the safety of our residents and visitors in the City of Santa Barbara. This includes rigorous training for Commissioners as well as providing more opportunities for community input and education on policing practices in Santa Barbara.

In addition to soliciting public input, over the next several weeks, City staff will engage with various community members and organizations to gather comments on the draft.

The City welcomes any and all insights, questions and concerns to be shared during this time. Public Comment can be directed to FPOrdinance@SantaBarbaraCA.gov. The deadline for capturing public comment that will be presented to the Ordinance Committee is September 20, 2022.