Police reform back in the spotlight – Santa Monica Daily Press | Episode Movies

On Saturday night, November 12, just before 6 p.m., officers from the Santa Monica Police Department (SMDP) were filmed attempting to detain a man in the courtyard of the Pacific Plaza Santa Monica apartment complex at 1431 Ocean Avenue.

A video posted to social media shows two officers attempting to subdue a third man; As the battle progresses, an officer draws a baton and hits the third man several times in the legs. The video, which is being shared on local TV news and social media platforms, comes at a time when public safety reform is back on the agenda in Santa Monica.

The incident drew renewed attention from the local police department just days before a series of Santa Monica public safety reports and recommendations were scheduled to be presented during the Tuesday, Nov. 15 Santa Monica City Council meeting.

The reports focus on the implementation and status of the May 2021 after-action report on the events of May 31, 2020 – the protests and simultaneous downtown looting. The report, prepared by police oversight specialists OIR Group, contained 44 recommendations, 29 of which were finalized by September, according to the latest report; the remaining 15 were on their way.

A 26-page report included in the staff report for Tuesday’s council meeting lists the status of each recommendation. Some were easy to implement, such as ensuring “read receipts” are included in Intelligence briefings to ensure they are received, or including reminders for officers to turn on body-worn cameras during crowd incidents. Others had a longer lead time, such as developing a mechanism to track the number of less-lethal munitions used by individual officers and revising the policy of using force in relation to less-lethal crowd control situations.

“We appreciate the progress SMPD has made in addressing the 44 recommendations and look forward to receiving additional information on the implementation of the outstanding recommendations as they become available,” the September OIR report said.

Further details from an October update detailing how SMPD investigates complaints indicated that the OIR believed the department was responsive to inquiries and was willing to work with the Oversight Commission in the process so far. The report “noted a mix of strengths and limitations” and concluded that the group’s “review of the most recently completed SMPD investigations has shown that it is fundamentally sound in a way consistent with the achievement of these positive results.” “; However, they also identified “recurring — and easily fixable — issues that deserve the department’s attention.”

Among the few improvements requested by the Reform and Oversight Commission was a change to the body-worn camera policy, which currently directs officers to turn off cameras at their discretion to avoid witnesses and victims being filmed without their consent. The Commission wants this policy to be scrapped and cameras only turned off at private moments, such as when officials are meeting their families or using the toilet.

While written evidence ahead of Tuesday’s meeting seemed to indicate a trend toward compliance and collaboration between the Oversight Commission and the SMPD, the relationship remained strained.

The city council was scheduled to meet behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss pending lawsuits filed against the city by the Santa Monica Police Officers Association. The association is seeking to sack several commissioners who it believes have not completed the required training (members themselves complained that no training was provided to them).

In addition to the court cases, the meeting also comes days after the Stanford Law School Center for Racial Justice, led by former commission chairman George Brown, released a damning review of police oversight activities in Santa Monica.

Brown, along with Santa Monica residents Robbie Jones, Nat Trives, Craig Miller, Angela Scott, Mark Morgenstern and Michele Wittig, has contributed to a series that purports to explore “how the city’s move toward civilian oversight and… Police reform that offered little promise began to meet with immediate, willful opposition.” Miller and Scott are currently commissioners in the Inspectorate.

In addition to several written essays, the Stanford series also includes a nearly 15-minute video entitled “Why Can’t Police Reform Work in Santa Monica?”.

This video appeared on YouTube just before local TV news station KTLA reposted a social media video to the site showing two SMDP officers attempting to subdue and repeatedly beat a third man, whom the department later said was responsible he was homeless and had tried to crack down on security and police officers and refused to leave private property.

In a statement following the release of video showing the altercation, SMDP spokesman Rudy Flores wrote that the department had been sent on a call “about a man who was disruptive and refused to leave the property on several occasions.” Flores wrote that the suspect, later identified as 29-year-old Aren Kehind Taylor, allegedly attempted to fight a private security officer on duty at the complex before police arrived at the Pacific Plaza apartment complex.

“SMPD officers contacted Taylor. During the contact, Taylor attempted to walk past the officers and back onto the property,” Flores wrote. “Taylor aggressively approached the officers and spat in one of the officers’ faces before throwing a cup of liquid, punching the officer in the chest and adopting a fighting stance.”

Flores then went on to detail the scene that played out on the video, explaining that after several moments of wrestling, “officers got tired and decided to hold Taylor down until more officers could arrive and help put him in to be taken into custody”.

The SMDP statement also alleges Taylor made several seemingly incriminating statements as he was being taken to an SMPD transport vehicle, including the statement, “I was trying to fight the police on purpose.”

The department was unable to provide body-worn camera evidence showing the incident, including statements the SMPD says Taylor had made up to the Daily Press deadline; A public record request was pending with the City of Santa Monica.

The LA County Sheriff’s Department database information lists Taylor as a 27-year-old black male with black hair and brown eyes. Taylor has been charged with a felony and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court on Tuesday; He is being held on $50,000 bail. Details of Taylor’s charges were not immediately available.

emily@smdp.com

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