This letter originally appeared at santamonica.gov.

Dear Community Members:

Over the last several months we have experienced a series of high profile events in Santa Monica, coupled by an increase in overall crime. Naturally, this has caused concern among many regarding the safety of our community. As Police Chief I take these concerns seriously. The Santa Monica Police Department is committed to fighting crime – and ensuring that our residents feel safe in their homes, on our streets and in our neighborhoods and business districts.

This past week the Police Department implemented several changes in the deployment of field sworn and civilian staff to provide an immediate impact on crime and improve the perception of safety throughout our community. These changes include an increase in visibility of uniformed personnel as well as newly instituted operational protocols giving our management and supervisory staff additional resources to immediately address the areas of the city most impacted by crime.

We will continue to actively evaluate the need to reallocate and add additional resources on a daily basis. In addition, our Criminal Investigations Detectives have been working tirelessly to apprehend those involved in the most recent acts of violence in our community. Their efforts have resulted in the arrest of suspects wanted in connection with the January 1st murder of John Hautz on 34th Street as well as the home invasion stabbing that occurred on 5th Street on February 23rd. The suspect wanted in connection with the Montana Avenue jewelry store robbery on February 28th has been identified and we are actively working with our law enforcement partners in an attempt to procure his arrest.

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Although unmeasured, the perception of safety is a very real and serious concern that must be addressed. It is important to know the facts about the reality of crime in Santa Monica.  In 2017, Part 1 crime rose 12.5 percent. The majority of these crimes, 86 percent, are classified as property crime (burglary, larceny, theft from vehicle). The remaining 14 percent is classified as crimes against persons or violent crime (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault). In the first two months of 2018, crime has continued to increase by 5.7 percent, accounting for roughly one additional crime a day over last year. Troubling as these trends are to all of us in the Police Department, the number of annual crimes in Santa Monica remain well below historic rates of crime from 1965-2000

Over the years, our Police Department has built strong community partnerships to keep our city safe. We encourage residents to contact your area Neighborhood Resource Officer or Crime Prevention Coordinator in our Community Affairs Unit for any questions. You may also visit our website and social media platforms for the most up to date information, or visit CrimeMapping.com, an interactive online tool to provide you with updated information about recent crime activity in your neighborhood. We also offer SM Alerts that provide real time, accurate information on significant crime, traffic or fire issues.

In today’s world, of course, many residents rely on social media outlets like Facebook and NextDoor for what their neighbors are sharing about crime and safety. These are valuable tools, but social media can also magnify and spread incomplete, misleading or inaccurate information. It’s important to vet the source and understand that there is usually at least two sides to every story and social media does not operate with the same standards of accountability and sourcing used by responsible news media. It is important to keep in mind that it is equally erroneous to exaggerate the incidence of crime as it is to minimize it.

We understand and share community concerns about crime. We will not rest until they are resolved; however, we can’t do this alone. Your partnership is essential to help us provide you with the safety and security that you deserve as a member of this great community. We are your Police Department and we are here to serve you. 

Sincerely,

KENNETH SEMKO

Interim Chief of Police