The item on the City Council agenda to hire an outside security firm to bring the Culver City Police Department Jail into compliance with regulations failed, and has been reset again as ‘direction to the city manager’ to find another solution. The meeting on Monday, August 24, 2020 that attempted to address the long term problem at the police station is still a long way from resolution.
The item for more than $2 million in funding and some $300,000 in discretionary funds needed a four-fifths approval from the council to pass. The request by the Culver City Police to hire G4S Security as jail staff to shore up a lack of trained officers to fill the positions had been on the Consent Calendar earlier this month. While much negotiation with the department and the police union clearly took place in closed session, the expense and the shift of resources in a time of crisis is still in stalemate.
In the midst larger city discussions on the police budget, currently at $44.7 million for the 2020-2021 year, the request hit two challenges simultaneously; the city’s expected drop in revenues because of the pandemic, and the community’s push for police reform. In addition, the reputation of the company being considered for the contract has been deeply damaged by an expose from USAToday. Clear evidence of abuse of prisoners, illegal use of firearms and sexual assault of employees in the buildings they were hired to secure are all documented in the report.
While the jail on the Culver City premises has been deemed to be out of compliance in regard to lack of staffing for more than three years, the department has in the same time frame hired in 15 new officers. Acting Police Chief Manny Cid noted that his officers had not had jailer training, but Council member Daniel Lee pointed out that it was only 150 hours of required training, and that could be fulfilled in three weeks.
Both Mayor Goran Eriksson and Vice Mayor Alex Fisch voted in favor of the contract, but Council members Thomas Small, Meghan Sahli-Wells and Council member Lee voted against. Budget items always require a four-fifths majority.
All five council members voted “aye” on the motion put forth by Sahli-Wells requesting that the city manager work with the contractors, the Police Task Force, and the public to get more data as well as recommendations to deal with the out of compliance jail.
For now, the staffing issue remains unresolved.