City Council Okays Public Safety Oversight Committee, Crisis Intervention Program 'Hero Pay' Mandate Also Approved

The City Council met this week to review and discuss anew the consultants' recommendations to advance racial equity and social justice in public safety in Culver City.

After a seven-hour hearing on improving policing, Councilmembers passed by 3-2 vote a motion to create a public safety review committee, a mobile crisis intervention program and a plan to "de-prioritize enforcement of low-level traffic infractions."

The crisis intervention program was one of the many recommendations contained in the Solidarity Consulting report which detailed "ways for restructuring public safety duties and reducing reliance on police." Last year, the city manager hired Solidarity Consulting and Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM) to serve as technical advisors to the city's Public Safety Task Force in its efforts to reimagine public safety.

The CPSM report, unveiled last October, suggested decriminalizing low-level misdemeanor thefts, among other reforms and called for less than 3% reduction in the Culver City Police Department (CCPD) budget. These cuts would be realized by moving school crossing guards, animal services and parking enforcement to other city departments.

In sharp contrast to CPSM, the Solidarity Report suggested "pathways to reallocating public safety duties and resources that are most directly tied to existing racial inequities in policing." It makes the following recommendations: remove police from mental health and drug-related crisis intervention or emergency medical response; stop arresting people for misdemeanor crimes driving racial disparities; remove police from traffic enforcement; commit to finding ways to reduce the police force through attrition and a hiring freeze; and create a civilian oversight committee.

A majority of the speakers at Monday's hearing mentioned the two reports and urged the council to "stop criminalizing the poor" and improve public safety "to reflect our values" in Culver City. Most of them also expressed strong support for the Culver City Police Department.

In his report to the council, City Manager John Nachbar said the staff recommendations are designed to "decrease the reliance on police officers to perform certain non-criminal activities and address concerns that have been expressed by community members regarding perceived disparate treatment received by CCPD."

"Recommendations are grouped into specific areas, some of which may be implemented in a relatively short timeframe, while others will require further research and study. It should be noted that there are no recommendations to reduce the current staffing level of sworn employees," he added.

Following the hearing and spirited discussion, Mayor Alex Fisch, Vice Mayor Daniel Lee and Councilmember Yasmine McMorrin all voted for the motion. The dissenting votes were cast by Councilmembers Goran Eriksson and Albert Vera.

Included in the motion is "alternatives to incarceration," a program supported by Police Chief Manny Cid. The council will also receive quarterly updates on the public safety process.

"So far, we have started the process of implementing a non-police mobile crisis intervention program, and CCPD has de-prioritized enforcement of low-level traffic infractions and accelerated compliance with the Racial Profiling Identification Act," Mayor Fisch twitted after meeting.

Lee also twitted: "We took the first incredibly small step towards addressing public safety in Culver City in a care focused manner. Much appreciation for everyone who spoke."

At Monday's meeting, the City Council also approved an ordinance that mandates a temporary $5 hourly pay raise for national grocery store or retail drug companies and retail companies that have at least 300 employees nationwide and more than 10 employees per store site.

With the new law, Culver City joins many cities across California that have adopted "hero pay" mandates for frontline grocery or drug retail workers who, as essential workers, were required to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those cities include West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Oakland, Irvine, Berkeley, Irvine, Montebello and Long Beach.

The 'hero pay" mandate takes effect 30 days after passage, meaning grocery workers will see an increase in pay in late May or early June, city officials said. The mandate lasts 120 days.


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