With just under six weeks left until the Nov. 2 city council election, the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association endorsed Randy Rowse, Barrett Reed and Nina Johnson on Friday.
The association endorsed Mr. Rowse for mayor, Mr. Reed for District 4 and Ms. Johnson for District 6 in a letter sent out Friday by SBPOA Executive Director Eric Beecher.
In the endorsement letter, the association said Mr. Rowse’s experience as a former city councilmember gives him the “experience and ability to make Santa Barbara a better place to live and work.”
The letter also acknowledged Mr. Reed and Ms. Johnson as strong supporters of public safety and said the candidates’ backgrounds and experiences would make them each a good fit for the council. Of Mr. Reed, the association said he has the “skill set and forward thinking Santa Barbara needs” from his background as lifelong resident and local businessman. And of Ms. Johnson, the organization wrote that she is a “tenacious leader” in City Hall who is willing to work with community members to “take action and get things done.”
Within the endorsement letter, the association also stated “no confidence” in the city council incumbents running in the election. The letter claims that the council has “fostered a culture of distrust in our police officers and not honoring the professional and dangerous work they do everyday.”
“The lack of understanding and knowledge of what our police officers endure on a daily basis is irresponsible,” the letter states. “These decisions to not stand behind your police officers have directly threatened public safety and the safety of those employed to protect our community.”
The letter also details findings from an internal survey the association conducted a few months ago that sought to determine why police officers were leaving the Santa Barbara Police Department in high numbers.
The letter claims the results of the survey revealed that “morale is at an all-time low” among SBPD deputies and says the “number one reason” people are leaving the department is due to “lack of support from our city leaders.”
The letter concludes by calling for new leadership on the city council, expressing confidence in Mr. Rowse, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Reed.
“We know Randy Rowse, Barrett Reed and Nina Johnson will provide your local law enforcement with the resources necessary to fight crime and keep this community safe,” the letter states. “We are certain that each of these candidates will place your safety, as well as the safety of your family, homes and businesses, as their top priority.”
In response to the claims made in the endorsement letter, Mayor Cathy Murillo told the News-Press in an email that as mayor, she “fully supports” the police department and its officers, and looks forward to continuing to work with them in the council’s regular meetings on youth safety and homelessness.
“I always look out for the well-being of my employees, and have been the strongest advocate for decent salaries, safe working conditions, and secure retirement,” the mayor wrote. “And, I will continue my support for a new police headquarters.”
“I also will continue to support stronger oversight and the mission of the Community Formation Commission, which is developing a recommendation regarding civilian oversight to prevent excessive use of force in our police department,” she continued. “I hope that the heat of electoral politics can be viewed for what it is, and that our residents know there is trust and respect among us all.”
The city council election will take place Nov. 2. For more information on the election, visit santabarbaraca.gov/gov/vote/default.aspemail: email@example.com