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    News

    City Mgr. Says City Hall Will "Bite the Bullet" (Absorb Costs) And Deploy More Cops Along Downtown Pine Ave. Corridor At Least Thru Summer


    (August 3, 2005) -- In the wake of recent post-midnight downtown gunfire -- one person fatally shot near 3d/Pine (July 30) and a non-fatal fracas in the Pike area with multiple shots fired (July 29) -- LB City Manager Jerry Miller has indicated that after discussions with Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal and Dan Baker, the DLBA [Downtown LB Associates], PD Chief Batts and Deputy Chief Hulsey, "we have agreed to bite the bullet and to increase our presence beginning this weekend in the Pine Ave. corridor to expend additional overtime, at least for the balance of the summer."

    City Manager Miller added that LBPD is also deploying throughout the entire city "on a number of special enforcement efforts."

    Mr. Miller added, "[W]e are making a commitment to this and I think you'll see a difference on Pine Ave. this weekend and for the balance of the summer at least."

    The City Manager's comments came at the August 2 City Council meeting after two downtown businesspeople complained about a lack of police officers consistently deployed in the downtown area. Their comments, during public comment on non-agendized topics, sparked Council discussion on public safety one day after LB had three fatal shootings in less than 24-hours: 2900 block Santa Fe; 10th/Walnut and (possibly accidental) 800 block E. 15th St.

    LBReport.com posts extended excerpts of the Council discussion below.

    Demetrios (Jimmy) Loizides: (George's Greek Deli)...I'm here on behalf of myself, my family, my employees, the downtown merchants, residents and the hospitality industry to discuss the serious issues on Pine Ave...

    ...It really upsets me that we've gotten to this point where we've been to numerous meetings and talked about how one day something really bad is going to happen on Pine Ave. that's going to affect how we run our businesses and affect how we treat our employees and our families...

    ...I fought for consistent policing of Pine Ave., and the response I get every time is that we can't afford. Well we can't afford not to have policing on Pine Ave. and this past week has been proof of that.

    ...We have fewer officers now than we did four years ago before the Pike was even open...When the police presence is on the street, which is very sporadic, it's a noticeable difference, it's a huge difference on the street...

    Another big issue we have is the Blue Line [MTA train] which is supposed to be policed by the Sheriff's Dept. and they're not doing that either...

    Marie Deary: (2000+ bookstore) ...I have been in downtown Long Beach for the past 15 years and it would seem to me that we've had more police in downtown prior to 9/11 than we have today...

    ...If we don't do something about it and if we don't do something in a uniform kind of way, maybe we're not going to feel the pinch right now, but come September when the tourist traffic is not there and we have to depend on our neighbors and the other residents in other parts of the city when they no longer come downtown and then you start seeing the restaurants are leaving, the doors are closing and more vacancy in the downtown area...

    The ball is in your court...When what few retail business we have downtown, when they start leaving, and when the restaurant doors start closing because the customers are no longer there, maybe one or two murders don't do it, but when we no longer have a downtown and the people are spending millions of dollars to live downtown says 'no more,' maybe then it might be too late...

    Councilwoman Laura Richardson: ...I'm very supportive of the downtown and I believe we can't have a great city if we don't have vibrant downtown...However, I would equally say though, I had several phone calls this weekend myself, just last night of a 16 year old who shot a 13 year old in the face in my district, so it's not just unfortunately shootings that are happening in downtown, it's crime we have throughout the city that we need to work on...I think this Council...we know we need additional officers and I'm looking to a report hopefully we will be getting soon of some ideas of how we can do that...

    I don't believe there are fewer officers in downtown than what was before...I checked the staffing reports very closely...Since I've been elected, officers have increased for example in West [Division], and South and East as well...They've all gone up I think anywhere from approximately 80 to now in excess of over 100, so I just wanted to make sure we clarify that, that I don't want people hearing we have fewer, because we actually do have more...

    City Manager Jerry Miller: ...It is true that you have added police officers to the police force over the past three-plus years and that we have more people deployed in the various divisions than ever before. Having said that, my understanding is that based upon deployment needs and where there are prime hot spots and other requirements, the Police Chief may deploy officers in a somewhat unpredictable way. So in any given week, there may be somewhat fewer people on Pine Ave. than perhaps there might have been the week before or the month before.

    But the bottom line is that we're very concerned about the investment in the downtown as well and on Pine Ave. And I've been in contact with Councilmember Lowenthal, with Councilmember Baker, with the DLBA, with Chief Batts and with Deputy Chief Hulsey and we have agreed to bite the bullet and to increase our presence beginning this weekend in the Pine Ave. corridor to expend additional overtime, at least for the balance of the summer, while we are also, by the way, deploying throughout the entire city on a number of special enforcement efforts.

    As you know, we had some shootings two weekends ago and this past weekend and we have put a number of enforcement efforts in place to try to address the issues that are related there and it's making a difference, but of course, these are all things we needed to respond to quickly and didn't necessarily have the funding initially to be able to do that. But we are making a commitment to this and I think you'll see a difference on Pine Ave. this weekend and for the balance of the summer at least.

    Councilwoman Rae Gabelich: ...I'm from the 8th district and two weeks ago, a 15 year old was murdered sitting on a bus bench...and the night before that there were shootings among kids, four different shootings, it's outrageous...

    Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal: ...[T]here's been an explosion in businesses and restaurants and we have to try our hardest to keep up with it, and the City is committed to keeping up with it as the Manager said. So you will be seeing more patrols and we will prevent crime as much as is humanly possible. I do hope in the future the businesses will talk more about contributing in any way possible to those efforts and to the costs of additional police.

    Councilman Frank Colonna:...I've said many times on this Council that what happens in one section of the city affects every other portion of our city and it's reputation...We've got people that come in [to LB], are not patrons really, they're coming in to create problems. And that is what concerns me the most...It's going to have to deal with some really aggressive activity down there and making sure that these guys don't show up the second time.

    ...What happens is it sort of like it transmits itself, especially when we have a rail line like the blue Line that kids from, some of them are losers, a lot of them are losers, they don't pay to get on the line, they get down here and then they become our problem...

    ...I think what's got to happen is how we handle it sends a good message to those guys wherever they're coming from that downtown Long Beach is not going to be a place that we're going to tolerate these kinds of things, because what happens is that the good guys, the good operators,then become the victims, because the money that they invest, their customers don't want to come down and shop or have dinner or walk around at night. And what should be our business card is the fact that it's a beautiful, new great downtown with a lot of vitality and a lot of interest and energy and people investing their money and a lot of newcomers that are making Long Beach home...

    ....I feel that any aggressive action that [City Manager Miller] you need to take with the Chief [of Police] that we don't mince words on it...Whatever it's going to take, and I know it costs money, but I don't think there's a member of this Council that won't support that. But we've got to send a clear message because there are people that are in outlying cities that see opportunity by victimizing businesses...I would imagine that as many of these guys that get a free ride on the train either shoplift or go into some of our restaurants and stiff some of our operators from what would be a dinner or whatever or cause people to just keep walking the other way because they're obstructing...

    ...I would like to hope that whatever the curfew is, whatever our municipal ordinances allow, the good people aren't going to care. They're going to like that we do this. It's the bad guys that we got to make sure that they understand that they're not welcome here. So whatever it takes, Jerry, 'cause this run-up is a lasting reputation that we can't afford for our city..


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