Better safe than sorry. In May of 2020, protests against the death of George Floyd spread across the country often accompanied by looting and rioting. Santa Monica suffered a day of rampant looting and a week of curfew to prevent more.
As the trial of Derek Chauvin begins to draw to an end with the jury beginning its deliberations this week regarding the death of George Floyd, Santa Monica's Police Chief, Jacqueline Seabrook, delivered a message addressing concerns of possible civil unrest.
"There have been no threats or any activities specifically targeting our community," Seabrook wrote although she acknowledged "concerns happening in the broader environment." Apparently because of those concerns (and possibly keeping in mind the way unrest from Minneapolis spread across the country following George Floyd's death), Seabrook announced that the Santa Monica Police Department would "begin a gradual increase in its field-based staffing" beginning April 16. "You will see our enhanced presence throughout our community," Seabrook explained.
Seabrook's message did its best to straddle a commitment to First Amendment rights to free speech and outrage over Floyd's death on the one hand and a readiness to counter looting and violence on the other. "Our general sensitivities continue to be affected by the senseless deaths of Mr. George Floyd, and more recently, Mr. Daunte Wright," Seabrook wrote, saying she recognized "that peaceful assembly is essential to promote systemic change." At the same time, she said, "The women and men of your police department are steadfastly commited to you and your safety" and the department is coordinating with other law enforcement agencies. The cover letter for Seabrook's message added that "We will not tolerate violence, looting or any other form of criminal activity."
Seabrook attached a checklist for Emergency Preparations prepared by city staff. The checklist appears to anticipate widespread looting and advises business owners and residents to "monitor local news and prepare your immediate area with enough time for you or your staff to leave" should an "event" begin and to remove "high-value inventory items from displays." Businesses are also told to obtain boards for storefront windows "so that you have these on hand, if you need them."
The Chief's message and the checklist are included below
I am Jacqueline Seabrooks, your Interim Chief of Police. This is the latest in a series of public safety communications which allow me to speak more directly with you about the Police Department's preparedness based on concerns happening in the broader environment. Since my last message, our general sensitivities continue to be affected by the senseless deaths of Mr. George Floyd, and more recently, Mr. Daunte Wright.
The women and men of the Santa Monica Police Department share in the collective disappointment these circumstances evoke. We also recognize that these circumstances give rise to a strong sentiment that peaceful assembly is essential to promote systemic change. Because peaceful assembly, as expressive conduct, is protected by the 1st Amendment, the Santa Monica Police Department is committed to assisting and facilitating in this peaceful freedom of expression.
In the coming week, the Minneapolis jury will begin deliberations in the criminal trial of the officer involved in the death of Mr. Floyd. Because these deliberations and, very likely, the verdict will occur just as the initial stages of the case against the officer- involved in the death of Mr. Wright take place, we here at the Santa Monica Police Department certainly understand that you may be concerned about the safety of our community.
I want you to know that the women and men of your police department are steadfastly committed to you and your safety. Accordingly, we have been closely monitoring the events in Minneapolis and within our region. As we make other preparations which include multi-agency collaborations and internal systems review, I get to tell you as of this recording, there has been no indication of any threats or any activities specifically targeting our community. Now, should that change, of course, you will receive updated information by way of community notifications or by our social media platforms.
Beginning April 16th, the Police Department will begin a gradual increase in its field-based staffing. You will see our enhanced presence throughout our community. As I have provided these and other community updates, I've been asked by members of the business community what they should to do prepare. City staff has prepared a comprehensive checklist of recommended actions. That checklist can be accessed via the link below. Many of these recommendations also apply to our residents. So take a peek and implement as you see fit.
Looking ahead, as the City begins to slowly reopen, I ask that if you see suspicious activity, please let us know. You can report suspicious activity by calling (310) 458-8491 and speak with a public safety dispatcher. And, as always, life-threatening emergencies should be reported by calling 9-1-1.
I thank you for your time and I hope to see you around town as we open up in the near future. Take good care and thank you.
Emergency Preparedness Checklist:
● Monitor local news and prepare your immediate area with enough time for your or
your staff to leave before the event begins (if possible).
● Sign up for emergency public safety alerts at SMAlerts.net or by texting SMALERTS to
888-777 to register.
● Develop an emergency communications plan to quickly notify your employees and
customers of any emergent operational changes.
● Share contact details between neighboring businesses, including after-hours phone
● Review your insurance policy and contact your insurance company, if needed, for
● Create a current inventory list to have available for the insurance company and take
photos of the business before the event.
● For businesses operating outdoors, during any emergency event clear the outside
area, including parklets and outdoor dining patios, of any unsecured items that can be
used to damage property or break windows/doors. Heavy items can remain in place
but should be safely secured.
● Secure the business by locking doors, gates, windows, etc., and ensure door locks and
roll up gate locks are of good quality.
● If possible, apply graffiti coating to gates, and walls to minimize graffiti damage.
● Ensure security/intrusion alarms are set.
● Ensure Fire Life Safety System (Fire Alarm) is active.
● Ensure security video surveillance system is running so that images can be provided to
● Secure high-value inventory items from displays, and minimize inventory at the location
if possible, by moving it to a secured location.
● Shut off any excessive lights, music, and/or anything that may draw attention to your
● Obtain boards for storefront windows so that you have these on hand, if you need
them. Board storefront windows with plywood of at least ¼ inch. Click here for board
● If you are interested in hiring private security please follow state guidelines and ensure
the security guard has their appropriate guard card, is licensed to carry firearms (if you
elect to have an armed guard) and has gone through the appropriate background
check to verify they are legitimately qualified to carry a firearm. Familiarize yourself
with the Santa Monica Municipal Code which governs the attire for private security
personnel. And finally, if you could please provide SMPD a courtesy call so we can
become familiar with your security guard. This will help us address any potential calls for
service should they come in.
● Be aware of your surroundings, and if at any time you become unsafe, contact your
local law enforcement agency immediately.