Fire and Police Commission meeting | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

The City of Santa Barbara is looking to fill the final opening on the reimagined Fire and Police Commission, which was overhauled last year to ensure a more transparent and efficient model of police oversight in the city.

Last year — following a huge push by advocacy groups to change police oversight in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020 — Santa Barbara City Council decided to take the city’s existing Fire & Police Commission, which had meetings that were not held in City Council chambers or live-streamed to the public, and reconstitute it with five all-new members, who were appointed in December and began meeting in January.

But in the few months since the commission began working, one of the commissioners, Ana Zepeda, decided to step down for personal reasons. According to commission staff, Zepeda had missed a few of the most recent meetings, most recently in June, and had trouble juggling her position as commissioner along with her other obligations.

Ana Zepeda | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

The city is now reopening applications though August 17 to seek a new commissioner, according to a listing on the city website. “The City is looking for passionate individuals to fill an unscheduled vacancy on our esteemed Fire and Police Commission,” the listing reads. “This is an incredible opportunity to serve on the commission and make a real impact in our community. If you’re enthusiastic about ensuring efficient and adequate fire and police protection for our beloved city, this is your chance to shine.”

During the first round of applications, more than 20 individuals applied for the five open positions, with applicants ranging from former lawyers to community advocates. When the new-look commission was first announced, there was widespread interest for those hoping to participate.

“The Commission plays a crucial role by advising the City Council and City Administrator on all matters related to public safety, and your insights could truly make a difference,” the announcement says. “Your voice and perspective will be valued as we discuss crucial policies in public forums, covering areas such as the complaint process, use of force, and crisis intervention team training.”

Applicants must be qualified to vote in the City of Santa Barbara. They cannot be an “individual or attorney” with a pending claim or lawsuit against the Fire or Police Department, or any of their officers or employees, nor can they be any “current or former law enforcement officer or firefighter,” including individuals who have sustained a complaint of “serious misconduct” by law enforcement agencies. The commission meets the fourth Thursday of each month at City Hall.

“We believe in the power of diverse perspectives and experiences. We warmly welcome applications from all interested individuals, including those who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Your unique insights and experiences are invaluable in our mission to create a safer and more inclusive community for everyone,” the city announcement reads.

To apply, visit The deadline to apply is August 17 at 5 p.m.,  and interviews will be held during the City Council meeting on August 29.


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