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Getting Serious About Making Santa Monica Safe

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Get Serious About Making Santa Monica Safe

With a crime rate of 51 crimes per one thousand residents, Santa Monica has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes - from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One's chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 20. Within California, more than 98% of the communities have a lower crime rate than Santa Monica.

The city safety posture reflects a city that no longer exists.  Santa Monica’s public security resources and policies have not kept pace with the significant increase in organized criminal activity and non-visitor transient migration in and through the city during the past almost 20 years.  

To make matters worse, the city’s inaction is leading to an increased use of private security, where only those neighborhoods and businesses that can afford such services benefit, effectively discriminating against all other parts of the city, if they are allowed at all.  

In the 2024 budget, only 7 additional sworn police positions have been authorized while 51 other new permanent and temporary positions have been budgeted in 2023-24 for all other areas of the city.  

Using the Fiscal Year 2024 budget numbers, current authorized (not hired) sworn police staffing levels will be only 7% (14 positions) above the 2004 level.  

The 2004 level had not materially changed from the late 1990s when several of the large hotels had yet to open. 

The result of this is the ongoing decline in real safety for residents and businesses. 

Since 2004, the Santa Monica security profile has completely changed:

  • Metro Rail opened in May 2016

  • Unilateral LA County rail and bus policies have effectively converted the Metro transit network into a mobile shelter system

  • Unilateral LA County rail and bus “End-of-Line” policies have created a daily drop-off pipeline of 60 to 80  unhoused individuals per day into Santa Monica.  This adds upwards of 8,800 transient individuals to the streets of Santa Monica every year, assuming that only 30% of these disembarkations are new to Santa Monica.  The city’s own (unpublished) Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) indicates the annual flow of transient individuals through the city is in the 6,000 range. 

  • Unilateral LA County policies accommodating substance abuse, (the needle exchange program) have been implemented in Santa Monica.  

  • The composition of the homeless population has changed with the City noting that 78% have mental health conditions and 75% have substance abuse conditions, indicating a huge overlap of individuals with both.  

  • Props. 47 and 57, which reduced penalties for certain lower-level drug and property offenses, were passed in 2016 which have spurred an increase in crime.

  • LA-based organized catalytic converter gangs now routinely roam Santa Monica 

We believe this situation must not be allowed to continue. 

We would require that:

  • The City needs to fully fund a permanent increase in sworn police officer positions to the 250 to 280 range from the currently authorized 221.  Recruitment needs to be streamlined to ensure all positions are filled.  Unfilled approved positions have regularly reduced the actual level of employed sworn officers to below 200.

  • We will adopt policies that are focused on resident and business safety which would include identification and enforcement of all available statutes to discourage illegal and harmful behavior such as applying and enforcing public intoxication laws to substance abusers.

  • Prohibit the elimination of existing public safety policies such as traffic stops.

  • Engage in robust negotiations with the County of Los Angeles to stop County policies that are negatively impacting the City of Santa Monica.

  • Significantly improve homeless individual data sharing between the city departments and police, in line with the recommendations of the city audit findings.  This is essential given the overwhelming transient nature of the homeless population in the city.

  • Close all beaches and parks at night to discourage encampments

  • Common sense needs to be applied to the City’s approach expanding “traffic calming” initiatives.  Mid-road concrete curbs, curb extensions and related changes are increasingly placing drivers at risk of collision with moving traffic as they enter or exit their vehicles. 

Since 2004, the Santa Monica security profile has completely changed:

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