One applicant for the city’s new police oversight Community Formation Commission summed it up succinctly when she told the Santa Barbara City council this Tuesday: “The competition is fierce. I don’t know how you’re going to narrow it down. Good luck.”
Initially, 79 people had applied to fill the 13 seats of the soon-to-be formed commission. Last week, the council heard from 25 people and this week, in the final interview process, 23 more applicants explained why they should be selected. Most represented a diverse cross-section of the Santa Barbara community. Many spoke passionately about their need to serve the community in general, but more specifically about the need to balance public safety against the damage police actions have caused in underrepresented communities.
The 13 applicants selected by the council will be charged with recommending what type of civilian oversight is most appropriate for the city. Much of the work will be spent exploring how allegations of excessive force and racial profiling, for example, are currently handled by the department.
In the wake of the George Floyd killing by Minneapolis police officers last spring and the subsequent nationwide reckoning over race and policing, Santa Barbara’s City Council agreed to demands made by Black Lives Matter and Healing Justice to consider the creation of such an oversight body.
The council hopes to select Community Formation Commission members who have lived the experiences of vulnerable populations, can work productively in a group, and as Mayor Cathy Murillo said in an interview, can ensure that all elements of the community are treated with respect. Next week, the council will decide which 13 applicants — and two alternates — to select.
Every day, the staff of the Santa Barbara Independent works hard to sort out truth from rumor and keep you informed of what’s happening across the entire Santa Barbara community. Now there’s a way to directly enable these efforts. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.