Council Votes 9-0 To Let Metro Contract Away LBPD Officers For Blue Line Policing, No Details Provided (Incl. Number Of LBPD Officers Taken From Other Citywide Police Tasks, Sums Metro Will Pay And If Citywide Officers Will Be Replaced One-for-One For LB Taxpayers In FY18)

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(Feb. 15, 2017, 7:00 a.m.) -- The Long Beach City Council voted without dissent on Feb. 14 to "formally support the proposal by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to enter into a contract with the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to perform security and safety services on the Metro Blue Line" without seeking or receiving answers for themselves -- or for the public -- on the contents of the proposal they voted to support, including how many LBPD officers would be drawn from current police tasks citywide (such as responding to neighborhood calls for service, gangs, fireworks, disturbances, assaults and burglaries) to suit Metro.

Also not asked or answered publicly: how much Metro will pay, whether the sums Metro will pay will be sufficient to replace. one-for-one, the officers drawn away from their current citywide assignments, or whether city management or Councilmembers plan to replace the officers for taxpayers in the FY18 budget.

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The item as agendized by Councilman Al Austin, joined by Councilmembers Lena Gonzalez, Dee Andrews and Roberto Uranga at this link. didn't discuss these matters...and the four agendizing Councilmembers used a "short notice" procedure (cutting in half the time for public notice of upcoming Council actions) to bring the item the Feb. 14 City Council meeting.

In making the motion to approve, lead-agendizer Councilman Al Austin said the item was brought on short notice due to the upcoming Metro Board meeting, although a fact-check by shows that the Metro Board meeting isn't scheduled until Feb. 23, meaning the agendizers could have given the public the full public notice period for the Feb. 21 meeting if they'd wanted to provide it.



The issue become publicly visible over a month ago on Jan. 10, 2017 when Mayor Garcia declared in his "State of the City" message that as a newly named Metro Boardmember he would vote to support having LBPD officers handle Blue Line policing, telling the audience that this "could add up to an additional 30 police officers to the Long Beach police department paid for by Metro" but didn't explain then (or on Feb. 14) how up to 30 more LBPD officers would materialize.

LB police officers tied by contract to handle LB's Metro trains/stations won't be available to handle calls for service in other neighborhoods citywide or for other citywide incidents and emergencies. LB's current citywide deployable budgeted police level has been allowed to shrink (by the actions of past and present Councilmembers) to a level roughly equivalent per capita to what Los Angeles would experience if it cut roughly 30% of LAPD's officers. Since the passage of the Measure A sales tax increase, the City Council has added 17 officers out of 208 erased since FY10.

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On Jan. 11, 2017, in response to an inquiry from, LBPD stated: "Metro and LBPD are currently still in negotiations, but the general framework of the LBPD proposal includes approximately 30 officers dedicated to providing law enforcement services to the Blue Line. Initially, these officers would be drawn from the general pool on an overtime basis and not diminish the amount of officers currently deployed in the community." reported the story (first, again) at this link.

On Jan. 15, 2017, learned of a Nov. 17, 2016 Metro Committee meeting in which Metro staff indicated that it was prepared to take 14 LBPD officers and deploy them as soon as Jan. 1 as part of a five year contract. (Metro Board approval for this was subsequently delayed until which time Garcia would have joined the Board, giving him a vote on this as well as other big ticket Metro items (including the future configuration and impacts of the pending I-710 freeway expansion.)

On the Feb. 14, 2017 Council item, downtown interests supported using LBPD officers to handle Metro Blue Line policing. Kraig Kojian, President/CEO of the Downtown Long Beach Alliance spoke in support, and indicated that the proposal is also supported by the LB Area Chamber of Commerce and LB Convention and Visitors Bureau. One individual spoke in opposition, one downtown resident spoke in support, and there was no organized opposition (possibly due to the short notice given by the agendizers.)



Immediately before the Council vote, Councilman Austin (a member of the Council's Mayor-chosen "Public Safety Committee") stated that he wanted to make sure this vote is married in intelligence and considers the colossal paradigm shift that we are going to embark on" and said he'd like to ask "a couple of basic questions"...but Councilman Austin ended up asking only one, and it was a leading question that didn't seek any specific numbers, just the Chief's conclusion: "Does Long Beach PD have the resources for effectively police the Blue Line should this measure pass MTA?

[Police Chief Luna] The question is tied into your previous vote. Because of the leadership of this Council and the foresight, you have supported us in hiring back to back academies. That started last year. We are going to hire two more academies this coming year. So as we are becoming more healthy as we're considering attrition and some of the other factors, we are well positioned to join in this multi-agency security plan...[F]or the city of Long Beach itself, to have our own police officers patrolling the rail itself or on the train itself and the platforms and the corridors adjacent only enhances the visibility up and down our primary corridors which I believe based on my experience will positively impact not only crime but the quality of life. No one can patrol or knows their city as well as their own local police department, and I have heard for years from many of our stakeholders and our citizens that they're unhappy with L.A. County Sheriffs and they have wanted us, the Long Beach Police Department, to patrol this Blue Line and through the Mayor's leadership and all of yours, this sends a strong message. I'm not saying we're going to get it, but.I think we're well positioned on Feb. 23 that the vote may go our way and our City's going to benefit greatly.

Councilman Austin said this "helped him make an intelligent decision." No Councilmembers asked any other questions...and the unanimous Council vote followed.


The Council's action stemmed from a May 3, 2016 item agendized by LBPD to "Authorize the City Manager, or designee, to execute all documents necessary to provide a response to Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Request for Proposals (RFP) Solicitation No. PS24750 for Transit Law Enforcement Services; and obtain authority for the Long Beach Police Department to submit a responsive proposal to furnish labor, materials, and other related items for the performance of a contract." The agendizing memo doesn't discuss LBPD staffing impacts for residents citywide. It stated in pertinent part: "This contract opportunity will potentially allow LBPD to provide police services on the portion of the LA Metro transit system that runs through the City, which will positively impact public safety efforts. LBPD will model an RFP response presenting staffing and deployment models based upon its knowledge of the region and crime patterns..."

City Manager Pat West told the Council that management doesn't have a lot of information to share, and was simply seeking Council permission to respond to Metro's RFP and indicated Commander Rich Conant was handling the matter. Commander Conant said LBPD "is currently completing our staffing model and we will be prepared to present the staffing model on May 28 per the schedule for Metro, Metro's RFP. We're looking at policing ten stops in the city and it's a great opportunity for the police department to improve the quality of life for our Long Beach residents with our services on the Blue Line." Commander Conant offers to answer any questions, but no Councilmembers ask any questions. The Council voted [motion by Gonzalez, second by Uranga] to approve the item 7-0 (Austin and Andrews absent).

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