Crime statistics posted on LBReport.com do not assert or imply the safety or crime risk of any specific location or address. The data are public record and speak for themselves.
Data can be interpreted in different ways. We urge readers not to draw inferences beyond the data. In our view, reported crime stats are analogous to an X-ray or ultrasound, an imperfect image but useful when used carefully.
Finally, it behooves all of us to recall that these crime statistics represent real people -- LB residents, businesses, visitors or customers -- who were unjustly victimized in our city.
The increase in LB crime coincides with charges by retired LB Public Safety Advisory Commissioner John Deats, initially reported exclusively by LBReport.com and substantively undenied by city staff, that LB has fewer sworn police officers than the City Council publicly budgeted.
As LBReport.com also reported, a still undetermined additional number of officers will likely retire by year's end, further thinning LB's police strength.
This coincides with additional security tasks which LBPD has been handling since September 11, inevitably drawing resources that might otherwise be available for neighborhoods. The full impact of this will not be seen until the fourth quarter crime statistics are released next month.
As of November 27, LB had 872 sworn officers actually on force, a per capita sworn police strength of roughly 1.89 officers per thousand residents. In September 2001, the City Council voted to budget 913.5 officers, a per capita police strength of 1.98 officers per thousand residents
By comparison, L.A. budgets roughly 2.5 officers per thousand residents and Signal Hill budgets roughly 3.0. L.A. regularly has controversies over its police levels, which have often been lower than budgeted.
LB's City Council -- not the City Manager or Police Chief -- decides the city's police strength. LBPD can't deploy officers that the Council doesn't budget to employ.
City management says new officers are now attending a police academy class set to graduate in spring, 2002. However, it is uncertain whether they will be sufficient to bring LB close to its budgeted officer strength or to some lesser level.
At the November 27 Council meeting, City Manager Henry Taboada publicly pledged to conduct another police academy class in the coming year if needed. Each class takes six months to complete and is preceded by nearly a year of recruitment, testing and screening.
Some recruits are inevitably lost to attrition, and those surviving to graduation won't be sworn officers until spring, 2002, thus leaving a gap in early 2002 when LB will be even more thinly police than at present. Newly sworn officers are also restricted to operating in tandem field positions for 16 months before going solo.
City Manager indicated at the November 27 meeting that a publicly agendized report on LBPD staffing and budget issues would be forthcoming at a future Council meeting.
For further details, see LBReport.com coverage at: LB Has Fewer Sworn Cops Than Budgeted and Yr End Retirements Will Thin Police Strength Further.