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Schneider Calls for Regular Updates from Police Chief at City Council Meetings

Mayor proposes 'modest steps' to increase transparency at City Hall

In the past several months, a number of items related to public safety have come to the forefront of the public debate.

Much of the discussion has stemmed from various media stories, public testimony, court proceedings or statements made from candidates during numerous City Council forums. What’s been missing is a chance for the full City Council to hear a report from Police Chief Cam Sanchez at a regularly scheduled public City Council hearing about the Police Department.

Particularly in the past month, I have received a number of comments from residents asking about the Peter Lance/Kasi Buetel court proceedings and the recent arrest of Tony Denunzio. While it would be legally inappropriate for me to comment on any ongoing investigation, I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to contact me about their concerns regarding these matters. Please be assured that these matters are being reviewed in detail.

As a matter of good public policy, I propose that twice each month the City Council meetings include an agenda item for the police chief to give an update on the department’s status. The chief’s report should be about five minutes in length and can include any aspect of the department’s work he so chooses, such as crime reports, updates on the Police Activities League and officer recruitment updates, to name a few.

As with any council agenda item, public comment is welcome and the City Council can discuss the items and followup with questions to the chief.

I hope these modest steps to increase transparency at City Hall will be embraced by my colleagues.

— Helene Schneider is mayor of Santa Barbara.

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