On Monday evening, following their extended City Budget discussion, the Culver City Council took the term “Interim” off of new Police Chief Jason Sims’s title.
Community members praised Sims during public comment, with Kelli Estes saying, to Sims and audience members over the phone, “The city and community are very lucky to have someone of your caliber serve in this role.” She pre-emptively added, “Any negative comments will not reflect the majority of residents and businesses in our city.”
Denise Neal was on hand in person to congratulate the new Chief. “Thank you for being accessible to the community; to being willing to listen to us; and, I hope and pray, that you and your officers remain safe and will continue to serve us well,” she said.
“I fully support this, as I voted to approve his ascension to this position,” said Councilmember Dan O’Brien. “He’s demonstrated over his time to be above competent and considerate. His officers have shown respect and support for him as well.”
Councilmember Freddy Puza was more reflective, assessing personal criteria and analysis to judge the worthiness of a candidate to be Chief. “I do think Sims is a professional and will be able to run and manage a department,” he said. But he also added his personal difficulty in supporting this action item. “I will continue to work and dialogue with whoever the police chief is, despite differences of opinion, because I do believe, and hope, that we can create a public safety system that works for all.”
Councilmember Göran Eriksson – always one to model his decision-making after some big city mayor he met with at the League of Cities – said this person informed him of a method of how to base his decision on Chief. He said if the police department is on the right track and finding its way, one should try to find an internal candidate. If the department is heading in the wrong direction, then an outside candidate should be chosen. He feels the department is on the right track and open to new and innovative methods of policing, and is therefore supportive of Sims.
Vice Mayor McMorrin reminded the public that she was transparent in her 2020 campaign about diverting resources from the police department into community solutions. She then took to task several methods of policing that she does not feel have yielded any beneficial results and may in fact be perpetuating white supremacy and other abuses. She then said, “It looks like Chief Sims will have the votes to move forward this evening, but I just challenge and hope that you are committed to really looking at the studies that didn’t come from thin air. There are people who are really committed to finding ways we can be safe.”
“I think, moving forward, it’s the best thing for the organization,” Mayor Vera said in support of Sims. “You’ve shown your leadership through some of the most difficult times as Assistant Chief.”
Jason Sims was appointed Chief of Police on a 3-2 vote, with Vera, O’Brien, and Eriksson in support. McMorrin and Puza voted against Sims.