Very Fine People

Yesterday’s message from Acting Police Chief Manny Cid was an attempt to lower the temperature of a still-smoking conflict. The only way to really douse the flame is to stop allowing them fuel.

Chief Cid is in a difficult position. But listening to people comparing the right of citizens to critique their publicly supported institutions to the right of unions bankrolled with public funds to attack those citizens – that’s kind of like saying there are ‘very fine people on both sides.’

Doesn’t look like it.

The Culver City Police Officers Association – the union arm of the Culver City Police Department – has a lot of money to spend on this election. The challenge is that they have nothing of substance to spend it on. ‘Defunding the police’ isn’t on the ballot. There are no municipal propositions about the CCPD budget.

They can throw money at candidates. That’s one of the things unions do. It’s legal, fair, ethical and traditional. It’s expected. The candidates taking money from the police union are people running on the right side of the line, espousing a more conservative vision, and generally holding the notion that nothing should change. Culver City should stay as it is.

It’s a long term investment that when the budget comes up next year, some of these candidates who might be elected will ‘owe’ a bit of support to the police union, and will therefore vote in their interests. It’s a gamble, but that is what unions do.

The problem Chief Cid is attempting to address is that the CCPOA is spending ad money on social media personally attacking people who provide information about police salaries and arrest records. That is not just ethically wrong, it’s ugly.

The people being attacked by the CCPOA online ad buys are highly respected academics working at an internationally renowned institution. Publishing their salaries – which are not paid by Culver City taxpayers, nor are they scheduled in the city budget – is just childish.

When people take academic data that has been scientifically arrived at, using a sound methodology, from a reputable institution, and publish it to illustrate a point, that’s reasonable. It’s a portrait of reasonable. The data should be respected and considered for conversation on possible policy change.

Every time there is an ad on social media from the CCPOA, they lose support. They are making an argument against themselves with astonishing accuracy.

If Chief Cid’s statement is to “encourage everyone to exercise their rights in a civil and compassionate manner, considering that all involved and impacted are human beings, regardless of profession, status, or affiliation,” then he needs to put a review mechanism in place before any ads are posted on social media.

If they want to disagree with the information, that’s one thing. But attacking people for providing information isn’t okay.

It’s good that Chief Cid made a statement. What kind of action can be taken is unclear – I doubt the Chief has jurisdiction over the union leadership. But the union has to see that they are just making themselves look bad.

The CCPD cannot stand by as the CCPOA continues to spend money attacking members of the community.

Those flames are still too close for comfort, and leadership needs to put them out.

Judith Martin-Straw

 

 

www.culvercitysymphony.org

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