On June 3, 2020, Culver City Crossroads had a virtual meeting with Culver City Police Chief Bixby to discuss the issues currently facing the community.
CCC: So, the question we are hearing most often is about curfew; who decides and what are the factors?
Bixby: The City Manager, City Council and myself make the decision on curfew. Several factors are taken into consideration when determining the appropriate time for a curfew. The most important factor is public safety. We also work with other cities, with the county; it’s been a bit chaotic, but we are facing a chaotic situation, so we just have to move it when there seems to be a need to move. I’m fairly confident it won’t go on too much longer.
[The City of Culver City and the County of Los Angeles have both lifted the curfew today, June 4, 2020. See the article below.]
CCC: Just now, we heard President Barak Obama say that “Reform really takes place at a local level.” Can you share with our readers what the Culver City Police Department’s focus on reform is?
Bixby: Earlier this year, we created the Police Chief’s Advisory Panel, but the first meeting was planned for early March, so it was one of many meetings that were cancelled because of the pandemic. The committee that created it was made up of city employees that have attended and graduated from a program called, “Government Alliance on Race and Equity” (GARE). They put the panel together, and our Equity Manager Mily Huntley did the actual selection out of about a hundred applicants. I accepted every recommendation made by the selection committee. My only input was to insist on diversity. I am not interested in “yes” people, I want input from a cross section of our community.
CCC: With calls for defunding the police coming right after the budget revisions the the city asked for in regard to the pandemic, can you specify what budget cuts are already planned, and what might be coming next?
Bixby: Every department was asked to cut a minimum of 10% out of the proposed budget – that is, the budget we proposed earlier this year – and we were able to cut 12% by not filling some open positions. We also froze several positions indefinitely. We trimmed our Operating and Maintenance expenditures; contracts, supplies and equipment. We will be listening to the council in regard to further budget issues, as we have to; if we don’t have the money, we can’t pay the bills.
CCC: Obama also mentioned the program My Brother’s Keeper, that Culver City has been a part of.
Bixby: Yes, that was a commitment we started in 2014, there was a community summit at West Los Angeles College, and it’s a good program. I’m glad that Culver City opted to participate.
CCC: There have been a number of community meetings on the department’s request for a BearCat armored personnel carrier, and the item has also been on the city council’s agenda more several times. There is a solid objection from the community, some of whom call it the War Wagon. In regard to the national dialogue about this kind of equipment ‘militarizing’ the police, do you still think you need one?
Bixby: I object to the ‘war wagon’ classification. We see this as a rescue vehicle, and, as we’ve noted at the community meetings, many other police departments around us already have these. Do we need one? Yes.
CCC: The National Guard is now at the Fox Hills/Westfield mall. Can you tell us how that came about?
Bixby: The County (Sheriff) requested the National Guard from the State early on. We requested assistance from the National Guard through the Sheriff’s Office and were granted that request. There had been occasional swarms of vehicles, at one point we estimated about a hundred cars, driving around the mall, looking for a way to get in [and start looting.] Our resources were already pretty maximized, so we contacted the LA County Sheriff, and they contacted the state with the request for National Guard support. As of now, we are only expecting an overnight, but we will re-strategize in the morning.
CCC: Culver City has long had a terrible reputation as a racist department, but many layers of reform have been added over the last decade, and I’ve been told that as this point, the CCPD is more ethnically diverse than the population of Culver City. Can you talk about the reforms that CCPD has put in place over the last decade, and how you are working to change the reputation?
Bixby: I’ve been here for 41 years, and when people bring up racism, I take it personally. My four Captains are as mixed a group as you can find anywhere; one of my captains is from Cuba, one is Egyptian, one is a Japanese-American, and yes, we do have one Caucasian. But our people are multi-ethnic, they come from all backgrounds, and what I can say with confidence is that they are the best. We don’t just hire anybody, we have very high standards for our personnel.
Thank you for this timely article. It truly seemed a fair piece for “what is”.
The city has evolved willingly over the years. Perfect, no. Our city, through all departments continue to ask the residents for input and implement change.
That being said, there’s always more on so many fronts for movement.