The quarterly meeting between the representatives of the Culver City Unified School Board and the City Council took place on May 20, 2021. The city council was represented by Albert Vera, Jr. and Yasmine Imani McMorrin, and Dr. Steve Levin and Dr. Kelly Kent were the school board representatives.
Culver City Police Chief Manuel Cid was also on the zoom call for an agenda item about School Resources Officers, the ‘cops on campus’ that the CCPD provides to the middle and high school.
Dr, Kent requested information about interactions between the officers and the students, and noted that this request had not been met.
Chief Cid offered, “The purpose of the partnership is to provide safety in and around our schools… and to preserve a partnership with the school administration.” He noted that in addition to the CCUSD schools, private schools in Culver City are also served. Out of approximately “1000 calls for police, 700 of those are for CCUSD Schools.”
The campus closures from the pandemic had reduced the amount of data, but including 2019 in report, Cid noted that “there were 21 interactions between students and officers at the high school campus. Of those, three were with females and 18 were with males. Of those interactions, 20 were citations, and only one was an actual arrest.” Racial data showed that of the males that the police interacted with, 12 were Black and 6 were Latino.
The approximately 700 calls in the 2019- 2020 also included SCAR interactions – Suspected Child Abuse Reports, which would occur if a teacher or administrator thought that a student was being abused. These are state mandated reports to support and protect children who may be in unsafe family situations. Specific data on these reports is private by law.
Cid stated that his stance was “Impressing upon [an] officer to have a visible presence [and reminding them that] job is to be reactive. We do not have any officers looking to be proactive.”
With the ongoing community conversation about how the police are utilized a matter for both the city council and the school administration, getting into details with both governing bodies present was an essential step towards moving the discussion forward.
Cid offered a story that he presented as merely anecdotal, only to be refocused by both School Superintendent Leslie Lockhart and Council member McMorrin.
“We got a call on high school students stealing a lawn sign, ” Cid recounted, “and we did not give out a petty theft citation to two individuals.”
Lockhart noted, “This really focuses on what is a crime, and what could be resolved with a conversation between people.” Why the police were involved in a matter as low level as a lawn sign seemed to be swatting a fly with a hammer.
McMorrin added “One of the things wee are looking into here is preventing a waste of resources.” Why uniformed officers were called to deal with naughty children was an example of misdirected efforts.
Dr. Kent noted after the meeting that Chief Cid had provided the board with the written report that had been requested, and the presence of officers on campus would be the focus of further consideration.
Photo Credit – CCPD – SRO Garcia interacts with a first grade class at La Ballona in 2019
Editor’s Note – This post was updated on May 26, 2021 to reflect information that a citation was not issued