City Council Adopts Recommendations for Police Department Oversight
During a Special City Council Meeting on Monday, June 6, 2022, the City Council adopted staff’s recommendations for oversight of the Police Department and included additional direction to ensure that community expectations are met during implementation of the new civilian oversight system.
“This is a level of oversight of the Police Department that the City of Santa Barbara has never experienced before in a manner that is proactive, not reactive and still provides the opportunity to learn and evolve as we continue to receive more input from the community,” shared Barbara Andersen, Senior Assistant to the City Administrator, during the presentation to Council.
The Council adopted staff recommendations to enhance the oversight duties of the Fire and Police Commission through the drafting of new ordinance language, and that monitoring responsibilities be designated and elevated to the City Administrator’s Office. Council also supported staff’s direction for the approval of a contract with the Office of Independent Review for a strategic analysis of key functions of the Police Department.
After hearing public comment, Council added direction that included obtaining a contract of no less than one year with a monitor professional to assist with the creation of auditor-monitor functions in the City Administrator’s Office given that this would be the first time these duties would be assigned to this office. It also included a reconstitution of the Fire and Police Commission, which will be facilitated through a special recruitment process in order for members to be appointed based upon the new duties; as well as the commitment to working collaboratively with key stakeholders to identify the threshold for third party investigations of police misconduct.
The staff will also be working with former members of the Community Formation Commission and other community leaders in drafting the ordinance language in enhancing civilian oversight duties of the Fire and Police Commission prior to it being reviewed by the Ordinance Committee.
Council members acknowledged the incredible work of the Community Formation Commission as well as staff in identifying opportunities to incorporate their recommendations into existing oversight mechanisms and current personnel given the budget constraints that the City is confronting over the next several years.
Council and staff expressed their support and appreciation for the men and women of the Santa Barbara Police Department. Mayor Randy Rowse shared the sentiment, “I have a feeling of what this department was, what this department is, and what it continues to be, and what it strives to be in the future. This is an exceptional department.”