What were Santa Monica Police Doing at the Breakup of the Pro-Palestinian Encampent at UCLA?

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If, like me, you were watching the news on Wednesday night, you might have noticed a cameo appearance by the Santa Monica Police Department at the breakup of the Pro-Palestinian encampent. A row of SMPD squad cars was shown on screen while the ABC7 crew tried to find the promised backup from the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

SMPD has agreements with police enforcement agencies in nearby cities and other agencies (CHP, etc…) where they can call on them for aid in certain circumstances and the other agencies can do the same with them.

“The SMPD is a member of a regional mutual aid group that includes UC Police,” explains Lt. Erika Aklufi. “ We provided personnel as part of our agreement with those mutual aid partners. As you would expect, if we have need for assistance we can ask as well.”

The “mutual aid system” between agencies is enshrined in state laws that provide guidelines for how these agreements can work. For more on how these agreements work, visit the state website here.

As for what SMPD actually did on Wednesday, preliminarily the answer appears to be, “not much.”

“While I wasn’t on scene, from what I understand most of the SMPD personnel who responded to Westwood were only standing by in case they were needed and did not need to participate in any actions taken to move protesters,” Aklufi continues.

The cost for Wednesday’s appearance will be borne by SMPD. For more major engagements SMPD could bill the agency requesting aid for a reimbursement for officer salary and other costs.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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