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If You Call 9-1-1 In Long Beach And Report A Crime In Progress -- Even Some Felony Crimes In Progress -- You May Not Receive A "Priority One" Police Response; To What Extent Is That Due To Mayor/Council Budget Actions That Haven't Restored Over 180 Citywide Deployable Police Officers That LB Taxpayers Had And No Longer Have?


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LBREPORT.com publisher's note: LBREPORT.com is interested in knowing if you, or a family member or a friend, has experienced circumstances of the type reported below. If so, please email us or contact us by email at mail@LBReport.com or by private message using our Facebook page at this link.
(April 7, 2019, 12:50 p.m.) -- LBREPORT.com has learned that when an individual (a resident, business or visitor) calls 9-1-1 in Long Beach (L.A. County's second largest city) to report a crime in progress -- including some felony crimes in progress -- it may not receive a "Priority One" police response.

This came to our attention after an LBREPORT.com told us what he encountered after he observed what appeared to be a residential burglary in progress, immediately called 9-1-1 and after a considerable period without an officer response, the caller called a second time and a dispatcher indicated that his call didn't warrant a Priority 1 response and was told they are only for matters of life and death.

Responding to an emailed inquiry by LBREPORT.com, LBPD's public information office replied by email: "If a call does not portray an imminent danger it is not treated as a Priority 1."

So exactly what is LBPD's current policy on such calls by residents and for roughly how long has the current policy has been in effect? "The current prioritization has been in effect since approximately 1991. The call is prioritized into one of three priority levels based on the information that is provided to the dispatcher at the time of the call. The call priority may be upgraded or downgraded if new information becomes available that changes the level of imminent danger or circumstances."

[LBPD says that if a community member is unhappy with their contact with a dispatcher or how the call was handled, they can contact the Communication Center Supervisor at (562) 435-6711 and ask to speak to the on duty supervisor.]

LBREPORT.com compared LBPD's stated policy with what City of Long Beach budget documents have stated.

[Scroll down for further.]






In its police budget narrative (presented to the Council and the public in August-Sept. 2018), the City of LB's FY19 currently adopted budget states:

"Priority 1 calls are potentially life-threatening emergencies, such as a shooting or a robbery in progress. This level of call receives the Police Departmentís fastest response time." (City of FY 19 adopted budget, LBPD section, unnumbered PDF p. 3.)

In previous years, City of LB budget documents stated:

  • FY13 budget, LBPD section, unnumbered pdf p. 12: "Priority 1 calls are potentially life-threatening emergencies, and encompass events which involve life safety such as a shooting or a felonious crime in progress..."
  • FY07 budget, LBPD section, p. 413 table: "Number of Priority 1 (emergency) calls anticipated to require dispatching"
  • FY 06 budget, PDF page 9, asterisk to table: "Priority 1 calls are life threatening/crimes in progress. Priority 2 calls are non-life threatening/crimes and have just occurred."

    The caller who'd called LBPD to report what appeared to be a residential burglary in progress was John Deats, a longtime appointee (at times chair) of the City of Long Beach's now-former Public Safety Advisory Commission in addition to twenty years as a member of LBPD Chiefs of Police Advisory Groups spanning five Chiefs (Binckley, Ellis, Luman, Lance and Batts.) Mr. Deats tells LBREPORT.com that based on the foregoing, he doesn't believe the response he received to his residential burglary-in-progress call is the same as in the past and added bluntly: "I think what you were told is bullshit."

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    Mr. Deats said that as a member of the five LBPD Police Chiefs Advisory Groups, he was told that crimes in progress received Priority 1 responses and added that he was told to tell this to other LB residents involved in LB Neighborhood Watch groups.

    Mr. Deats indicated that in his view, the Priority 1 police response he didn't receive is due in large part to the incumbent Mayor/City Council's failure to restore over 180 citywide deployable police officers that LB taxpayers previously had [as recently as FY08] but no longer have. He said that in his opinion, crimes in progress are now being downplayed because the Mayor/Council's budget actions have left LBPD without sufficient resources to deal with situations they encounter daily (including copious paperwork for contacts, arrests and the like) and when combined with the lack of staffing, he believes "they're cookin' the books on crime stats."

    As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, starting in FY09, LB City Councils (that included then-Councilmembers Robert Garcia and Dee Andrews) voted to approve budgets that erased 208 citywide deployable budgeted officers (including LBPD's field anti-gang unit.) Then-Mayor Foster described the policy as "proportional budget reductions" resulting from the effects of the "Great Recession." (LBREPORT.com notes that other area cities didn't cut roughly 20% of their officers for taxpayers during the "Great Recession.") To date, LB's incumbent Council has restored 22 of the 208 budget-erased citywide deployable officers to date since LB voters approved the Measure A ("blank check") sales tax increase in June 2016.

    The City of Long Beach's official Comprehensive Annual Financial Report ("CAFR") doesn't mention police staffing reductions due to Mayor/Council budget actions, but does acknowledge gradually lengthening (worsening) LBPD Priority 1 response times. The City's FY17 CAFR (the most recent online) indicates the City of Long Beach provided a 20% slower police response for Priority 1 in FY17 compared to FY10, a time period roughly encompassing Mayor-recommended Council-cast budget votes that erased roughly 20% of LB's citywide deployable officers.

    While noting that "In 2017, the average response time for police priority calls was just 4.8 minutes, one of the fastest for any large city in the U.S.," the FY 17 CAFR cites the figures below that we presume are averaged figures, meaning actual Priority 1 response times may be shorter or longer than those indicated:

    [Data in table titled "Operating Indicators By Function Over Ten Fiscal Years"]
    "Public Safety: Police priority one calls response time in minutes"

    FY08FY09FY10FY11FY12FY13FY14FY15FY16FY17
    4.384.074.004.204.354.354.694.904.604.80
    Source: City of LB FY 17 CAFR, pp. 204-205

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    The net result of what happened at the house in Mr. Deats' neighborhood? An officer did ultimately respond to the location and concluded that the individual Mr. Deats observed did have permission to access the property (and hence, no crime.) A week later, Mr. Deats says he saw a different individual at the property, again called 9-1-1 to report it and this time decided to confront the individual verbally, who then took off on a bicycle.

    Mr. Deats says he can't say for sure what the individual was doing at the property, but whatever it was it didn't receive an LBPD Priority 1 response..

    LBREPORT.com is interested in knowing if you, or a family member or a friend, has experienced circumstances of the type reported above. If so, please email us at mail@LBReport.com or contact us by private message using our Facebook page at this link.

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    Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.


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