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By Jorge Casuso

October 16, 2020 -- Police Chief Cynthia Renaud -- who came under fire for the rioting that swept through Santa Monica May 31 -- will retire this month to lead the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), City officials announced Friday.

Renaud's last day will be Sunday October 25, according to a joint announcement issued by Renaud and City Manager Lane Dilg late Friday morning.

City Employees' Council Endorsements

"Recognizing that recent events both here in Santa Monica and around the nation have strained community-police relations, Chief Renaud has made the decision to step aside so that the Santa Monica Police Department can continue to move forward," the statement read.

The announcement comes one week after the City said it had hired a consulting firm specializing in law enforcement oversight to investigate the Police Department's response to the rioting ("City Hires Firm to Probe Police Response to Riots," October 9, 2020).

Phil Brock for Council

Renaud will assume the presidency of IACP -- which has 31,000 members in 165 nations -- on October 23.

“Chief Renaud is a skilled law enforcement leader who has served Santa Monica with dedication during her tenure,” Dilg said in a statement.

“During a time when our City, our nation, and our law enforcement communities have faced unprecedented challenges, Chief Renaud has served this community tirelessly," Dilg said. "We are grateful for her service in these historic times.”

Renaud called serving as Santa Monica Police Chief “one of the highlights of my career.

“I am proud of our record over the past two years in times of unprecedented scrutiny and challenge for law enforcement," the Chief said in a statement.

"In my role as President of the IACP, I will be focused on rebuilding the relationships of trust on which all successful law enforcement is based," she said.

"I am grateful to the men and women of the Santa Monica Police Department for the honor of leading them and to the City of Santa Monica for choosing me for this opportunity.”

Renaud -- who was hired as police chief in April 2018 -- presided over a 16 percent drop in crime last year, City officials said.

"Chief Renaud led the Santa Monica Police Department through regional changes and adapted operations," officials said.

These included "increasing the number of specially trained officers who support citywide efforts to address regional homelessness, leading the Department during COVID-19 and taking the first steps to advance public safety reform."

But it was her department's response to the looting and violence that swept through the Downtown that most defined Renaud's tenure ("Santa Monica Demonstration Turns Violent, Looters Ransack Stores," June 1, 2020).

Santa Monica business owners complained police did little to stop swarms of organized looters and vandals from damaging 220 stores ("More Than 150 Santa Monica Businesses Report 'Significant Damage' from Sunday's Violence," June 2, 2020).

Meanwhile, protesters staged ongoing rallies outside the Public Safety facility denouncing the alleged use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators.

An online call to remove Renaud launched hours after the riots garnered nearly 56,000 signatures in one week ("Petition Circulates to Recall Santa Monica Police Chief After Rampant Looting," June 1, 2020).

In a candidate questionnaire posted by The Lookout this week, three of the four incumbents running for full-term seats said the chief was "responsible for the Police Department's response to the May 31 riots."

Councilmember Terry O'Day also blamed the Council and City Manager.

"The Chief is the decision maker with regard to strategy and tactics and she was charged with developing the response to the extraordinary events of May 31," Councilmember Gleam Davis explained in her questionnaire.

"It was horrible to see tear gas and rubber bullets used and wanton looting in Santa Monica," Davis said.

An investigation by the Lookout found that the Santa Monica Police Department was clearly unprepared, initially understaffed and appeared to have no operations plan to stop the violence ("PART I -- Santa Monica Police Could Have Prevented Looting Spree, Former Top Officials Say," June 10, 2020).


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