SB City Council Adopts Historic Oversight Committee for Police and Fire

SB City Council Adopts Historic Oversight Committee for Police and Fire title=
Santa Barbara City Hall (file photo)
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By the City of Santa Barbara

The City Council took an historic first step to create a civilian oversight system on Tuesday with a unanimous vote to adopt an ordinance assigning additional oversight duties and authorities to the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. 

Councilwoman Meagan Harmon said that civilian oversight is fundamentally about increasing transparency and growing trust, and she acknowledged the research, input, collaboration, and commitment from all the stakeholders involved in the process. 

“We are creating, with the passage of this ordinance, a framework,” Councilwoman Harmon said. “It is the single most significant step toward meaningful civilian oversight in our City’s history. That is a big, big deal.”

Councilwoman Alejandra Gutierrez acknowledged that there is still work to do in order to continue building trust and strengthen community, which is why she helped bring forward the initial proposal that ultimately led to the night’s vote. She said that since she has been on the Council she has advocated for better access to law enforcement in underserved areas and that she supported the opportunity for Commissioners to join police in a ride-along in order to have a better understanding of the job when conducting their oversight duties.

“I think for any profession that’s going to be having an oversight committee looking after them or judging them, I think it’s out of respect you put yourself in these law enforcement shoes,” she said. 

Santa Barbara Police Chief Kelly Gordon said her department looks forward to working with and supporting the new commission and coordinating with the City Administrator’s Office in meeting the community and Commission’s expectations. 

“We are committed to ensuring the safety and vibrancy of this beautiful City and strengthening transparency and accountability among all of our unique and diverse community members,” Chief Gordon said. 

Passage of the ordinance expands the responsibilities of the Fire and Police Commission. Santa Barbara citizens are encouraged to apply to become a part of the five-member Commission during a special recruitment. The application deadline is 5 p.m., on November 10, 2022.

The Commission is tasked with providing transparent oversight and increased civilian input regarding departmental policies, practices and procedures, while strengthening the relationship between the Fire Department, Police Department and the community. These added responsibilities are expected to enhance the health, safety, and general welfare of the community and City officers. 

To encourage an inclusive and diverse application experience, the City Council will prioritize the appointments of Commissioners who promote diversity, fairness, and equity among the Commission’s members and will also take into consideration a member’s personal or professional experience, including relevant lived experience, among other considerations. 

The application period will open on Thursday, October 13 and can be accessed here.

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ConservativeSB Oct 13, 2022 01:18 PM
SB City Council Adopts Historic Oversight Committee for Police and Fire

This will destroy the department. Just like it did to UCSBs police department. SBPD employees are already refusing to meet with the new chief because those who have, have been told their concerns are not her problem. Try calling the PD and ask for assistance for a very basic issue. It won’t happen. They’re understaffed and recruitment is way down. And does anyone really think the board will have a diverse group of people or will it just be another group of activists screeching at the department?

a-1665701036 Oct 13, 2022 03:43 PM
SB City Council Adopts Historic Oversight Committee for Police and Fire

The major issue is that Chief Gordon is not liked nor respected by most of the officers she oversees and she just got here! For the life of me, I cannot understand why the council has to go to an outsider to find police chiefs. We have qualified senior officers in the department. Trust me, this chief will come back to haunt City Manager Bjork and the city council. Our police don't need oversight, but Chief Gordon does!

doulie Oct 14, 2022 09:49 AM
SB City Council Adopts Historic Oversight Committee for Police and Fire

1036 - It is for the reason "she just got here" that I find it hard to believe she is neither liked or respected. I'm guessing most of the field officers/detectives have had minimal, if any, contact with her beyond their initial meeting. I agree the city should promote within the department for the chief's position. Staff/command officers have been passed over a couple times for the position that went to people outside the department. If these officers aren't qualified enough for the position of chief what are their qualifications to be in the staff/command positions they now hold? To be honest with future applicants it should be noted in the brochure they will not be appointed Chief. Let them know the department always looks for officers outside the department for this position.

Basicinfo805 Oct 15, 2022 11:52 AM
SB City Council Adopts Historic Oversight Committee for Police and Fire

Reading here a lot of what seems to be unfounded assertions regarding the relationships between the new chief and officers. I’ll just call bs on that stuff right now. How do you know? Agree w doulie. And I also agree to an extent w CSB, this isn’t going to help the citizens of SB. As someone who has known officers in this city for a few decades, I’ll tell ya that morale amongst our police officers isn’t improving and their job is getting more and more difficult (in case you haven’t picked up on that) and this stuff makes it even harder for them to do their work.

But hey, hit me w a downvote or 3 and/or criticize the officers if you want to. Everyone has their own opinions. That’s mine.

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