SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department was awarded $6.125 million in state grant funding to enhance efforts to combat organized retail theft in the region Governor Gavin Newsom announced this week.
Funding will directly support the ongoing targeted, innovative, and technology-based efforts by the SMPD to improve safety for residents and business owners.
“We are glad that the state has joined forces with local agencies to acknowledge that organized retail theft doesn’t just affect large corporations — it hurts our small businesses, puts employees and shoppers in danger, and it creates feelings of unease and fear in the community,” said Police Chief Ramon Batista.
In an email to Canyon News, Lt. Erika Aklufi noted that further establishes the Santa Monica Analytical Real-Time Center, or SMART Center, which will bring together technology and support staff to synthesize and interpret real-time data to strategically allocate police resources to address crime throughout the region. The SMART Center will help aggregate data and coordinate police response by using existing and coming technology including:
- Closed-circuit television cameras and a video management system
- Automated license plate readers, both mobile and at fixed locations
- Unmanned aircraft systems that can respond to incidents quickly and start collecting information for officers
- Live911, a program that allows officers to hear 911 calls as they are being received
“There is no understating the benefit our entire community will realize with the establishment of the SMART Center. This cutting-edge hub of information will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of public safety in Santa Monica,” Batista said. “The SMART center will support proactive police work that can prevent crime, acting as an additional layer of safety, identifying crime as it happens.”
Santa Monica was one of 38 local law enforcement agencies awarded funds through the Organized Retail Theft (ORT) Prevention Grant Program. This initiative compliments the continued work the SMPD is doing locally by adding focused deployments in major shopping areas and in conjunction with other local agencies — including joining the Los Angeles County Retail Theft Task Force created to collaboratively address high-profile retail theft incidents.
“Promoting a Clean and Safe Santa Monica is a top priority to support the safety and wellbeing of all who live, work and visit our great city,” said City Manager David White. “I commend the Police Department for the work they’ve already done securing this grant and look forward to seeing the tangible impacts of this funding and future strategic initiatives.”