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News / Perspective / AUDIO

Council's Public Safety Committee To Discuss Police Staffing & Replenishment Police Academy Class For First Time Since Nov. 30, 2010; Hear What Chair Garcia Said Then, And What He Said As Candidate

(Jan. 30, 2012) -- For the first time since November 2010, the LB City Council's Public Safety Committee (Councilmembers Garcia, Schipske and Johnson) will discuss police staffing levels and a replenishment Police Academy class on Tuesday (Jan. 31).

The last time Committee chair Garcia scheduled a meeting to discuss these two issues (it met three times in 2011 and discussed other items) was on November 30, 2010...after he and the Council voted (without dissent) to balance City Hall's spending budget in part by cutting 140 budgeted sworn police officers (Council votes September 2009 and September 2010) and not funding replenishment police academy classes to replace retiring/exiting officers.

Mayor Bob Foster named Councilman Garcia to chair the Public Safety Committee in September 2010.

In September 2011, a proposal by Mayor Foster to cut a number of additional officers and make cuts to fire and other services prompted Councilmembers Schipske, Gabelich and Neal to offer an alternative budget proposal using accrued oil revenue to avert some of the cuts. Their proposal, criticized by Mayor Bob Foster, was voted down by a Council majority 3-6.

LBReport.com provides on-demand access below to what Committee chair Garcia said at the November 30, 2010 Public Safety Committee meeting regarding police staffing and a replenishment police academy class...as well as what he said regarding public safety in declaring his candidacy in the 2009 special election to succeed Bonnie Lowenthal in the 1st Council district.

Council candidacy announcement Dec. 14, 2008

Public Safety Committee Nov. 30, 2010
(includes colloquy with Police Chief Jim McDonnell)

Long Beach's police level is now roughly at or below what the city had (with a smaller population) when Mayor Beverly O'Neill took office in July 1994. This includes the elimination of police positions for which LB City Hall sought and received federal police hiring grants during the O'Neill administration.

At its upcoming Jan. 31 meeting, the Public Safety Committee is also scheduled to receive a status report on 2011 crime statistics and the public safety benefits of public lighting.

As first reported by LBReport.com, LB had fewer murders citywide in 2011 (25) than in 2010 (31), which was LB's lowest level in roughly 40 years. (LB has had two murders to date in Jan. 2012).

However "citywide" crime data by definition combine very safe and less safe parts of the city, which can blur parts of the city in which residents and businesses experience crime at higher levels. In 2010, roughly half of LB's murders were in parts of the 1st and 6th Council districts; in 2011, roughly half are in parts of the 1st, 6th, 2nd and 4th districts.

Data on shootings (both "hit" and "no hit" shootings) are more difficult to access. LBPD categorizes shootings using the federal reporting standard ("aggravated assault")...a category that may include other things beyond shootings.

LBReport.com unofficially tracks murders and shootings. In the maps below: Brown Xs = 2010 murders; Red Xs = 2011 and 2012 murders to date; Blue Xs = shootings (victim hit) since Aug. 2/11 (date Mayor proposed FY12 budget w/ add'l police cuts); Purple Xs = shooting/victim missed since Aug. 2/11. The maps don't show all such events in the city but focus on two general areas where they've been most frequent. The two maps aren't to the same scale.

Long Beach (L.A. County's second largest city) currently provides its taxpayers with a per capita police level roughly equivalent to cutting L.A.P.D.'s police level by over 25%. Los Angeles provides over 2.0 officers per thousand residents while Signal Hill delivers close to 3.0.

In 2006, candidate Bob Foster pledged to increase police on the street by 100 officers during his first term, and was on his way to doing so, reaching 961 budgeted officers for citywide deployment (included 17 police academy recruits; figure doesn't include roughly 60 officers paid for and contracted to the Port/LB Airport/LBCC/LBUSD/LB Transit)

In Long Beach, the economic downturn (which escalated with Wall Street's financial crisis in Sept. 2008) was compounded by LB City Hall's approval of union contracts that gave raises to three major city employee unions (that had endorsed Foster's 2006 election) without including pension reforms. The Council approved the contracts in 2007 (POA contract reopener, no voted Council dissent) and 2008 (Firefighters, 8-1 Gabelich dissenting) and non-public safety employees (7-2, Gabelich and DeLong dissenting).

As the recession deepened, Mayor Foster said the contracts [that he'd proposed] weren't sustainable and insisted on pension reforms; LB's police and firefighter unions agreed to the pension changes in 2011; to date, the union representing non-public-safety employees hasn't done so.

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