No Councilmembers Signal Support To Restore Add'l Police (Leaving 186 Officers Not Restored); Councilwoman Pearce Asks Chief Luna About Lack of Field Anti-Gang Unit And He Diplomatically Responds; Chief Says New Sac'to Police Mandates Without Sac'to Funding To Pay For Them Are Draining At Least $2.5 Mil In LB Budget Dollars, Diverting Police Resources
|(August 14, 2019, 10:40 a.m.) -- At the City Council's August 13 budget hearing, no Councilmembers signaled support for restoring further police officers for taxpayers when the proposed FY20 budget comes to a Council decision making vote in September. As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, the city management-proposed/Mayor recommended FY20 budget doesn't propose to restore further police officers despite June 2015 voter approval of the Measure A sales tax increase (bringing City Hall roughly $60 million in additional revenue annually.) To date, Council budget votes since FY17 have restored 22 citywide deployable budgeted officers out of 208 erased (186 not restored.) City management has previously indicated that for rough budget estimate purposes, restoring ten officers costs roughly $2 million "fully turned out" w/ equipment, etc.
With over 50 shooting crime scenes (fatal + wounding + no-persons-hit) since May 7, Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce asked Police Chief Robert Luna about the current lack of LBPD's former field anti-gang unit. "Does this [proposed 2020] budget get you what you need with that?" Councilwoman Pearce asked. Chief Luna diplomatically responded:
Chief Luna: From a perspective of needing more, I don't think any department head would ever sit up here and ever say we don't need more. I'm really proud of the city family, the employees for every department because we're working our tails off to make this city safe, to make the city function, but at the same time I'm very cognizant of the fact that when I'm talking about gang enforcement for an example, you have to have intervention and prevention, you have to have parks and libraries; those are all functions we absolutely need to have in order to get to where I think we all need to get to.
Councilwoman Peace thanked the Chief and added that she believes the "connection between jobs, our workforce development, our city prosecutor, when we have people that come in with low level situations what we're doing with our prosecutor's office or with our workforce development to make sure we're connecting those people back to jobs and that's where we're really going to see the biggest reduction in our crime, not just policing, but making sure that we're investing in that front-end."
No Councilmembers followed-up on funding to restore LBPD's field anti-gang unit.
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Councilman Al Austin voiced support for renewing a gun-buy back program (an issue he championed several years ago.) Councilwoman Suzie Price urged full deployment of LBPD body cams (an issue she has consistently prioritized.) Councilman Rex Richardson raised the issue of increased shootings, saying they indicate a summertime spike that deserves attention to summertime programs for youth. Chief Luna said violent crimes historically increase at certain times of year including the start and end of the school year and Councilman Richardson raised the issue a second time, urging attention to the summertime increase.
Chief Luna said recently enacted Sacramento-statutory mandates (including SB 1421 and AB 748 (requiring officers to collect details of police stops and fully release records (incl. audio and video files) within expedited state law timelines) are costly, labor intensive and have created significant LB budget impacts. Chief Luna said the Sac'to legislative mandates with no Sac'to sums to pay for them have created serious LBPD budget impacts. He said AB 953, AB 1421 and AB 748 have created an estimated minimum LB budget impact of $2.5 million annually and LBPD is still exploring the full cost. Chief Luna added that AB 953 has created an additional work load requiring officers to enter multiple pursuit data points for every stop and detention "This takes officers away from doing proactive community based police work," he said.
Chief Luna said some parties (presumably policy makers) should take a close look at the local cost/budget impacts of Sac'to's recently enacted mandates. [Mayor Garcia and Councilmembers didn't directly respond on this point or indicate they will personally urge LB-area Sacramento legislators to do so.]
Chief Luna noted that the FY20 proposed budget includes an increase of $870,000 for a body-worn camera contract plus $850,000 to add 9 civilians to support implementing the cameras. He said the Measure A sales tax increase currently maintains 86 sworn positions. He noted that FY20 police budget taps Measure A for $2.2 million, an increase from $1.9 million.
Chief Luna also noted that LBPD has had intentional officer-involved shootings in the last 16 months, and credited robust training, live scenario-based training and de-escalation techniques in interactions.
Mayor Garcia cited LBPD officially-reported crime stats through June 2019 that indicate Part 1 (serious/violent crimes against persons and property) are down from last year's levels (which were down from 2017 levels.) Prefacing his words by acknowledging that every homicide is a tragedy and shouldn't be minimized, Mayor Garcia asked Chief Luna to confirm (which he did) that LB is currently on a similar pace as 2018's homicide level [which while higher than LB's recent all-time record lows is considerably lower than 10 or 20 years ago.] Mayor Garcia asked Chief Luna whether LB is a safer city today than it was in the past and Chief Luna said yes, citing his more than 30 years with LBPD.
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