Story by Georgia Parsons
Associate Feature Editor
Photo by Ella Jayasekera
The City of South Pasadena and the Public Safety Commission will host a virtual community forum as the City searches for a new SPPD police chief via Zoom on Monday, Mar. 15 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Attendees will be able to provide input to the interim City Manager Sean Joyce, who will be selecting the new police chief.
Multiple City Councilmembers will be present at the forum. The City circulated a press release which lists questions for residents to consider regarding a new police chief.
Former Police Chief Joe Ortiz announced his intention to resign from the SPPD on Nov. 20, 2020, to go into effect Mar. 1, 2021. Many residents saw this as a reaction to community members’ push for an investigation into Ortiz and his department due to alleged bias against women, people of color, young people, the LGBTQ+ community, and ineffective handling of violence against BLM protestors. Joyce has appointed Deputy Police Chief Brian Solinsky to take over Ortiz’s law enforcement duties until a new leader is elected.
Many residents plan to attend the forum and express their desires for a new police chief who will emphasize reform and equity. The South Pasadena Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) sent an email to Joyce stating its priorities for the new leader of the SPPD, which include having that person be a BIPOC and/or woman.
“The current search for the next Chief of Police for the City of South Pasadena is of utmost importance, as this person will have a crucial leadership role in protecting the safety and civil rights of everyone in the city,” the ARC said. “Across the country as well as right here in South Pasadena, numerous events over the past year have tragically shown that much change is needed to ensure that police departments conduct themselves in a transparent manner, without conscious or unconscious bias; enforce the law equitably; and in certain situations appropriately use social service and mental health professionals instead of police.”
The City has stated that feedback from the community forum will “be consolidated and integrated into the [police chief] recruitment process,” but did not provide any further specifics.