Want More Shootings? Here's How To Keep Them Going
|(June 26, 2021, 6:55 p.m.) -- Want more shootings? Here's how keep them going.
Long Beach City Hall currently provides its taxpayers with roughly 20% fewer police officers than it did in 2009 when Robert Garcia was elected to the City Council. Garcia and his then-Council colleagues voted for budgets, recommended by then-Mayor Bob Foster, that at their height erased roughly 200 LB sworn officer positions.
NO CITY CAN WITHSTAND ERASING 20% OF ITS POLICE STRENGTH WITHOUT IMPACTING CRIME AND PUBLIC SAFETY.
The leadership of LB's police officers union shamefully failed to object to this. It helped elect Garcia Mayor in 2014, and he once in office didn't correct the lack of needed officers; he perpetuated it. Garcia recommended budgets that (despite millions from the 2016 Measure A sales tax increase) restored fewer than two dozen of the 200 officers that his votes erased. (Measure A, a "blank check" measure, enacted with major funding from LB's police and firefighter unions, effectively freed up other general fund sums for Council-approved police/fire and management raises.)
And now the minimal 22 officer restoration is gone too. That's because in Sept 2020, the City Council voted 9-0 to defund 48 more officers on top of Long Beach's already thinned police level.
We agree that it makes some sense having social workers handle some issues that currently consume police time and resources...but thinning LB's already too-thin police levels is a reckless, irresponsible and avoidable response.
Councilmembers should first address their misguided spending priorities. Among other things, they could and should reduce Mayor Garcia's bloated nine member staff. His staffers don't arrest people or fix potholes. They serve Garcia, not you. Your Councilmember could and should move to cut Garcia's extravagant staff by at least half and allocate the sums saved to public safety related social services.
Councilmembers should move to reverse taxpayer-insulting management raises (creating more members of City Hall's "$200,000 Club") and cut city staff that the Council added instead of reducing. In our view, city management is too often the cog in the wheel that has provided the Mayor and Councilmembers with polished excuses to serve City Hall favored interests instead of taxpayers.
Are LBPD officers and firefighters too highly paid? If so, it happened because LB elected officials, recipients of campaign contributions from LB's police and firefighter unions, enabled it in contracts that the Council approved. That's no reason to defund police but it is a good reason for voters at their next opportunity not to support incumbents who enabled this.
Councilmembers should press for public safety reforms, including listing shootings and their locations in LBPD's published crime stats. LAPD does this, but (as LBREPORT.com has said for years) LBPD hides shootings by lumping them among various type of "aggravated assaults."
Your Councilmember could direct management to resume releasing LBPD crime stats by Council districts. This would let taxpaying voters easily compare which crimes in what numbers occur in which Council districts. That's information that then-Mayor O'Neill didn't want the public to see in an information blockade that Mayor Garcia and LB's current Councilmembers, who claim to be data driven, have allowed to persist.
Your Councilmember could have taken actions to deal with any or all of these items (and more). Insteadm he or she has failed to deal with any of them.
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Some will argue that instead of restoring police we should address the "root causes" of crime (which of course they claim to know.) In recent months we've heard everything from blaming increased shootings on the COVID-19 pandemic (an LBPD memo claimed this without Council objection) to familiar cliches citing economic factors. The claim that the pandemic causes shootings has self-collapsed with after-pandemic shootings. The claim that econimic factors cause crime is more complex, but it's undeniable that the poorest in Long Beach are more often the victims of violent crime, not its perpetrators. Shootings disproportionately impact working class neighborhoods filled with good and decent families and businesses. They would resent, not accept, the excuse that economics should make them criminals. Despite much higher levels of poverty during the Great Depression, America had less crime per capita than today. If poverty were a "root cause" for crime, we'd have no white collar corporate criminals.
We believe poverty doesn't always cause crime...but crime ALWAYS causes poverty. It steals wealth from working class families' in subtle but damaging ways every day. In Long Beach, crime has made some working class neighborhoods with fine geographic locations far less desirable than they deserve to be. That's family wealth taken out of families' pockets.
We believe a "root cause" of current shootings is, bluntly, that Long Beach gangs are smarter on public safety than LB's incumbent Mayor and Councilmembers. We doubt gang members watch City Council meetings, but they've figured out that some LB politicians don't object to smearing police as oppressors while treating gang members as misunderstood youth and helpless adults.
Like modern day Wrong Way Corrigans, they urge "defunding the police" to produce thinner LBPD levels than we have now. This akin to medieval doctors who thought they were strengthening an already weakened patient by bleeding them.
We believe a well run police department with adequate officers that doesn't tolerate officer misconduct could liberate neighborhoods from gangs that currently hold them hostage.
City Councils in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Signal Hill all provide higher police levels per capita for their taxpayers than Long Beach. If L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti completely lost his brains and announced he would be erasing 30% of LA's police level (which would still leave L.A. a higher per capita police level than Long Beach) he'd face a citywide uproar. In Long Beach, there's near citywide silence on this. .
It's time to replace that code of silence by telling the truth no matter whose toes it steps on. The truth is that Long Beach, L.A. County's second largest city, lacks 20% of police officers it had but longer has because of unwise actions by current and former LB Mayors and Councilmembers.
If you want more shootings, elect and re-elect candidates for Mayor, Council and other offices who offer endless excuses for failing to restore those officers.
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