News / In Depth / Perspective

Benchmark Chart On Police Staffing Shown To Council In June Shows LBPD Level Significantly Higher Than Updated Level Police Chief Projected In July For Routine Citywide Deployable (Not Contracted) Officers By Roughly One Year From Now (FY13 End); See Our Analysis, Perspective And Our Proferred Updated Chart


(August 14, 2012, updated text 10:50 p.m.) -- A graphic presented in June 2012 to the City Council by a city management-hired firm which indicated that Long Beach provides a higher level of police sworn staffing than what it called comparable cities used FY11-12 data that is significantly higher than the updated officer level that LB's Chief of Police indicated in July 2012 that he expects [for General Fund citywide deployable non-contracted officers] by the end of FY 2013...roughly one year from now.

On July 23, a month after the graphic was presented, LBPD East Division Commander Michael Beckman indicated at his quarterly community gathering that LBPD Chief Jim McDonnell projects that LBPD's sworn staffing will fall to 760 total officers by the end of FY13. notes that 60 budgeted officers aren't available for routine citywide deployment (because they're contracted to and paid by LB's Port, Airport, LBCC, LBUSD and LBTransit). By our calculation, this would leave Long Beach with roughly 700 budgeted officers available for routine citywide deployment by year end. Chief McDonnell's projection of 760 total officers was first reported by Tracy Manzer online July 22 on

The graphic, presented for benchmarking purposes at a June 19, 2012 special afternoon Council meeting agendized to "receive a presentation on Potential Government Reform Ideas and Trends," included roughly 60 officers not available for routine citywide deployment (contracted to and paid by LB's Port, Airport, LBCC, LBUSD, LBTransit, not Council prioritized/budgeted).

The cities chosen by the firm as comparable to Long Beach don't include any other L.A. County cities. Catherine Standiford of Management Partners (which made the Council presentation) told (consistent with her June podium testimony): "We used objective criteria. First we decided what criteria to use for purposes of determining what criteria would make an agency comparable in this case to Long Beach. And then we searched for agencies that meet or come close to having those same criteria. In other words, that's how we determine it. We don't pick and choose. We use the criteria first and then populate second."

The cities chosen by the firm as comparable to Long Beach were Anaheim, Bakersfield, Fresno, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego and Santa Ana. notes that Signal Hill, one of L.A. county's smallest cities, directly adjoins Long Beach, including some of LB's more crime impacted areas and is encircled by Long Beach. Long Beach (L.A. County's second largest city) is more densely populated [total population vs. sq. miles] than Los Angeles (L.A. County's second largest city). Density is a factor leading some cities to provide higher police staffing than less densely populated cities.

Signal Hill and Los Angeles, while not necessarily representative of other L.A. County cities, provide their taxpayers with significantly higher police levels than Long Beach. If included in the June 2012 presentation, they would be nearly off the chart and obviously significantly change its represented "median" level. proffers below our adjusted version of the chart presented in June. It reflects the Chief of Police's subsequent projection for end of FY13 and's analysis as indicated in this perspective piece and noted on the chart.

Is Signal Hill simply an "outlier," an unrepresentative datum? Not necessarily and we don't believe so here. Although Signal Hill has a small resident population compared to its business/retail areas, it's not uncommon for cities to decide their police levels in part based on daily fluctuations in their populations (from a large incoming daily workforce or in this case daily shoppers). To test this, simply double Signal Hills population based very roughly on its daily shoppers [caveat: very rough estimate]. That would raise its "daily" population (with retail) from 11,000 to 22,000...which would produce a police ratio (for daily calls for service) of about 2.0 per thousand. That's just about what Long Beach had in 2008...before Mayor Foster and city management recommended, and City Council majorities agreed in September 2009, 2010 and 2011, to eliminate over 160 citywide deployable sworn officers by attrition.

Recall that Signal Hill directly abuts Long Beach for its entire border, including some of the higher crime areas of LB.

Also noteworthy: Since 2009, contracted officers weren't cut, only officers available for routine citywide deployment (reflecting City Council's budget priorities). In FY13, the city management proposed budget indicates an increase in Port-contracted officers by seven.

The materials presented to the Council in June, 2012 by the city management hired firm weren't available publicly prior to the agendized Council session. This precluded their examination by Councilmembers, the public or the media in advance. No written report has been presented publicly. The firm delivered a verbal presentation accompanied by "Power Point" slides.

At today's August 14 Council meeting, Councilmembers are scheduled to begin discussing city management's proposed FY13 budget...including a presentation regarding LBPD's proposed FY13 budget.

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