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Santa Monica police chief leaving under criticism

October 21, 2020 GMT

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — The police chief of Santa Monica is retiring following intense criticism of her department’s response to looting and arson of businesses while officers were occupied with a huge racial injustice protest march last May.

Chief Cynthia Renaud’s retirement will be effective Oct. 25, the city said this week in a statement that credited her with cutting crime by 16% last year and increasing the number of officers trained to address homelessness.

“However, 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,” it said.

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Renaud, the Police Department and city leaders have been criticized for focusing on protests while criminals came into town and ransacked businesses on May 31, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported.

Similar crimes occurred elsewhere in the Los Angeles area and the National Guard was brought in to help restore order.

Renaud told a subsequent press conference that it was well-coordinated activity by people who were not interested in “engaging in the protest activity, the First Amendment right to free speech and this nation’s anger over systemic injustice.”

Renaud will become president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.