|(Sept. 2, 2017, 6:00 p.m.) -- At midafternoon Sept. 1, a man riding Metro's Blue Line in Long Beach approaching the Anaheim St. station was stabbed by another passenger. LBPD says there was no apparent motive. LBFD took the victim to a hospital. The suspect walked off, but LBPD officers (a combination of officers now handling Metro Blue Line policing assisted by other LBPD patrol officers, located and arrested the suspect.
[Scroll down for further.]
The map below shows shootings and stabbings from Jan. 1, 2014 to date:
We invite readers to take a quick quiz on LBPD's Metro and citywide police levels, as the Council prepares to vote on Sept. 5 and/or 12 on police levels for taxpayers for the coming year when the Council adopts a FY18 City spending budget. In the FY18 budget proposed by city management and recommended by Mayor Robert Garcia, taxpayers would receive NO additional citywide deployable police officers.
That will happen unless at least one Council member makes a motion, seconded by another, and gets five supportive votes (six if the Mayor later vetoes it) to restore some portion of 191 citywide deployable officers that City Hall budgeted for taxpayers entering FY09 that taxpayers no longer receive, while the City has an increasing number of city employees (including city management) in the $100,000 Club" and "$200,000 Club" and LB consumers pay the highest sales tax rate in CA shared with only a few other cities.
1. Under the Metro's contract with LBPD, how many officers is LBPD required to provide daily to handle policing along the Blue Line in Long Beach?
(a) 30 additional officers (or 28 or 26, variously heard)
The correct answer is (b): 12 officers per 24 hour period. ]Source: Metro/LBPD contract]. These are not "additional" officers. They are currently provided by using overtime from current citywide deployable officers. So how many officers were deployed at midafternoon Sept. 1 when the Metro Blue Line rider was stabbed? We don't know. LBPD doesn't disclose how many officers it deploys anywhere at any particular time; deployment decisions are made LBPD command staff (and ultimately LB's Chief of Police.)
2. How many additional officers deployable in neighborhoods citywide for taxpayers do city management and Mayor Garcia propose that the Council vote to budget in its upcoming Sept. 5 and/or Sept. 12 votes?
(a) 28 more officers (as some city staff statements led residents to believe at recent Council district "Budget Community meetings")
The correct answer is (b): zero additional officers for neighborhoods citywide. The decision is up to Council members on Sept. 5 and/or 12.
In FY17, the City Council restored 17 out of 208 officers erased since FY09. At this point, no incumbent Councilmember has proposed to restore any more of the 191 budgeted citywide deployable police officers that LB taxpayers previously had (details below.)
Any Council member, if seconded by another, could move to budget additional officers for taxpayers on Tuesday Sept. 5 or Sept. 12 (when the FY18 budget will be decided.) The Council could direct city management to provide various options for doing so (since City Hall now collects the highest sales tax rate in CA (shared by only a few other cities) and the City of LB is (city manager's term) "on a roll." [LBREPORT.com has editorially called on the Council to restore at least 35 additional officers, a modest increase that (with the 17 officers restored in FY17) would restore 25% of citywide officers that the City previously provided for taxpayers.] Five Council members could pass such a motion (subject to a Mayor veto that six Council members can override)
3. Is it true or not true that the proposed FY18 budget includes 28 or 26 more budgeted officers?
(a) It's not true.
The answer is (b). It is true that there are 26 more officers included in the proposed FY18 budget. The number has been tweaked from 28 officers to 26 + 2 admin positions but either way, they're NOT for neighborhoods citywide and they're NOT new officers. They're contracted officers (details below.)
The proposed FY18 budget proposes 848 total officers, of which 93.25 officers are contracted officers. Contracted officers are paid by and handle tasks at the Port, Airport, LBCC, LBUSD, LB Transit, Carmelitos and now Metro's Blue Line. Contracted officers are full fledged LBPD officers but they're NOT available to respond to citywide calls for service or for routine citywide deployment on citywide tasks during their contracted shifts.
Since LBPD is required to produce 12 contracted officers per 24 hour period under the Metro contract, and most LBPD officers work four-day weeks on ten-hour shifts, LBPD budgets 26 "full time equivalent" officers to provide seven day LBPD coverage under the Metro contract that results in 12 officers per 24 hour period over seven days.
These aren't "new" officers. LBPD is initially providing the 26 "full time equivalents" using overtime from current officers. LBPD says this won't reduce officers now deployed in neighborhoods citywide since it will use overtime from current officers. Chief Luna has stated that LBPD has used this method successfully in the past for other contracting entities and it shouldn't affect officer levels visible elsewhere.
4. The City Council is budgeting significantly more police officers for taxpayers after LB taxpayers approved the June 2016 Measure A sales tax increase.
The answer is (b): False. Mayor Garcia's recommended FY18 budget offers taxpayers 754.75 budgeted sworn officers citywide: 848 total - 93.25 contracted officers = 754.75 for citywide neighborhood deployment.
In mid-1994, outgoing Mayor Ernie Kell handed incoming Mayor Beverly O'Neill (with a lower city population and without plans for major increases in density) 791 budgeted officers.
Under Mayor O'Neill, City Council votes slowly but steadily increased officers. In seeking office in 2006, candidate Bob Foster pledged to put 100 more officers on the street in his first four years in office. Today, LB taxpayers have roughly 100 fewer budgeted officers than when Mayor Foster took office.
Mayor Garcia and the City Council have no plan in place to restore nearly 200 officers that LB taxpayers previously had. Within the first two years of taking office, Mayor Foster recommended Council approval of contracts with the three major city employee unions that had endorsed him...and those contractual changes didn't include pension reforms (2007 POA re-opener, 2008 new contracts with LB Firefighters and IAM) . (Then-Councilwoman Rae Gabelich dissented on fire and IAM, Gary DeLong dissented on IAM.) When the economy went into a steep decline in late 2008, the contracts Mayor Foster recommended and Council majorities approved became unsustainable...and Foster and the City Council imposed what they described as "proportional budget reductions" that erased roughly 20% of LB's previously budgeted citywide deployable police level. (Mayor Foster also belatedly demanded pension reforms that LB taxpayer advocates Tom Stout, Kathy Ryan and Larry Boland had advocated for years.)
From 1,020 officers (which included 59 contracted officers plus 17 police academy recruits), the City Council (which at that time included votes by Councilman Garcia) voted to eliminate 208 budgeted officers, the largest reduction in police officers for taxpayers in the more than 100 year history of the City of LB. Other cities weathered "the great recession" without eliminating 20% of their policy levels.
In FY17, following LB voter approval of a City Hall-sought sales tax increase (Measure A) [which gave LB the highest sales tax rate in CA, shared with only a few other cities], the City Council restored 17 of the 208 officers erased since FY10...leaving LB taxpayers without 191 officers they previously had.
In FY17, the Council also approved new contracts containing raises for nearly all City Hall employee groups (including city management.) These included a new contract for LB's police officers' union providing 9% raises over three years (annual cost by FY19 = $14.3 million.) City management said in a memo accompanying the Council action that it planned to fund the raises in part in FY17 with "less conservative budgetary actions such as reducing charges for insurance and funding for unfunded retirement liabilities" and leaving FY18 and FY19 costs to future "annual budget processes."
The City Manager's FY18 budget message (pp. CM 14 and CM 25) acknowledges that it was prepared using "reasonably optimistic" instead of the "reasonably conservative" revenue projections. This doesn't comply with City financial policies adopted by City Council voted action in October 2013. At the July 25 Budget Oversight Committee meeting, City Hall Financial Management Dir. John Gross publicly acknowledged this and said that if management had used "reasonably conservative" revenue assumptions, the FY18 budget would be roughly $7 million out of balance.
City management also indicates that its proposed FY18 budget assumes insurance savings by reducing the City's liability coverage and acknowledges this means increased potential exposures for taxpayers.
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