Good morning Mr. Casarez,
Thank you for your email. I respect your perspective and opinions. You are most welcome to meet with me and/or members of my department to discuss any and all issues or questions you may have. If that is something you’re interested in, please contact Lieutenant Troy Dunlap via his email (copied on this email) or by phone at 310 253-6109.
Attached, for your reference, is the statement the police department released on Thursday, May 28th. In addition, you can find it on our website under announcements (culvercitypd.org).
The Police Department answers to the City Council which is our oversight and review board. Under the umbrella of the City Council, we have a Police Sub-committee which consist of two sitting Council Members. I have also implemented a “Chief’s Advisory Panel” which is made up of a diverse cross section of our community. The application process and recommendation for acceptance was conducted by a panel of Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) graduates and led by our newly hired Equity Manager, Milly Huntley. It is important to note that my only input to the vetting process and recommendation committee was that I insisted on a diverse group, including but not limited to, sex, race, political affiliation, religion, no religion, sexual orientation, age and any other diverse background and experience that could and would bring community issues to me so that we can improve on our ability to provide the best possible service to all. All recommendations by the panel were accepted by me. This panel was formed just prior to the pandemic and we have been unable to schedule our first meeting due to social distancing requirements and logistics. The panel consist of approximately 24 community members.
In addition to the above mentioned oversight and advisory panel, we do an extraordinary job in our outreach effort. To name of few: Citizens Police Academy, Explorer Program, My Brother’s Keeper, Young Black Achievers, one of the first agencies to participate in the County’s Youth Diversion Program in partnership with the New Earth School, Coffee With a Cop, Curbside Coffee, Neighborhood Watch, Volunteer Program, Open House, School Resource Officers and I’m sure others that don’t come immediately to mind.
You mentioned, “Diversity in the ranks is not enough…” I agree that there is not one thing that would be “enough” but I do think diversity within our Department is incredibly important and brings perspective internally. It also proves that we hire the very best and brightest applicants which obviously comes from diverse backgrounds.
When you say, “The complaints are numerous and real here too.” I’m not sure where you’re getting your information? We have approximately 200,000 contacts with residents, visitors and businesses every year. Over the past five years, we have had a total of 96 complaints (26 internally generated and 70 externally generated) for an average of 19 per year (5 internal and 14 external). Of those 96 complaints, 27 were proven (22 of the 26 internal sustained and 15 of the 70 external sustained). Those numbers speak for themselves. I would be happy to compare that to any organization that deals with the public be it law enforcement or any other public or private entity. I also believe that it proves we hold our members accountable internally and externally. As you can see, the number of complaints compared to the number of contacts is an incredibly low percentage.
I regularly spot check statistics and demographics with regard to crimes committed, citations and field interviews to ensure that we are policing based on data and only data. It saddens me and, frankly, offensive to me and this organization that you would suggest, “what appears to be a systematic, persistent and an obvious form of racial profiling that continues under your watch.” I do not tolerate any form of discrimination, harassment or inequity for any reason and I have a track record of the most severe discipline possible should an allegation be sustained! I also acknowledge that our police force is made up of human beings, human beings whom have frailties including implicit biases. This Department has required trainings, namely Implicit Bias and 21st Century Policing, that works to acknowledge those biases and ensure we do not allow them to influence of actions.
Your comments on “de-funding”? This city is not unique, public safety is expensive and typically requires the largest slice of the budget. “How can your department prove it’s utility and importance to our community?” I can again refer you to our Monthly Report. We have one of the lowest response times amongst our peers, we have one of the highest clearance rates (crimes solved) amongst our peers, we have the lowest crime rates among our peers and frankly, due to public safety, the property values and desire to live in Culver City is, in no small part, due to public safety and the selfless dedication of the women and men that make up the police and fire departments! It is difficult to quantify or qualify what “would” have happened or what “did not” happen due to proactivity with regard to criminal activity. All that said, there may be no better example of this Department’s importance and value to our community than the fact that the women and men of this Department have continued to come to work and provide an exceptional service during this time of civil unrest and global pandemic. They have continued to come to work during a time when many others have not….frankly, they are the epitome of essential workers.
The 4pm curfew is consistent with neighboring cities like Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, both of which have sustained much more severe damage and looting than Culver City has. It gives us a tool to combat crime and protect peaceful protests. The decision on 4pm is made in consultation with myself, the City Manager and the City Council. As to how concerned citizens can exercise their rights of peaceful free assembly? Anytime, prior to to 4pm, and as of today, prior to 6pm. This decision is not taken lightly and based on public safety.
Lastly, I did not, “simply walk away” I made myself available and made a statement condemning the actions of the officers in Minneapolis and attempted to ensure all in attendance that the Culver City Police Department is a professional law enforcement agency that respects the rights of all with compassion. I then attempted to answer a question about a misrepresented video depicting one of our officers. As I described the facts of video I was interrupted to the point of realizing that the facts of the video were falling on deaf ears. Your right, the people wanted to be heard, not hear from me. I stayed and listened to the very emotional speakers until I was called away.
I hope this answers some of your questions and I offer again, meet with me and my staff with any issues. We are here, available and transparent.
Chief of Police
Culver City Police Department
Office (310) 253-6100