Santa Monica has authorized the hiring of hearing officers to streamline the city's disciplinary procedure.
Voting 6 to 0 Tuesday, the City Council gave preliminary approval to the move, which will allow an officer to hear cases and make recommendations to the city's five-member personnel board, which now oversees all complaints concerning city employee termination, suspensions and demotions. In recent years, cases have become longer and more complex, officials say.
Details remain to be worked out, but under the new arrangement, an employee and the city will choose an officer from a list of 11 candidates randomly selected from a 20-member panel of officers. The officer will give the board a finding, which can be appealed. The board's final decision can also be appealed.
Hearing officers will be named by the city attorney and will serve two-year terms. They will be paid by the city.