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    LB Police Chief Anthony Batts Outlines Challenging Plan: "Take Back Our Streets"

  • Says LBPD Focusing on Ten Police Beats Impacted By Violent & Gang Crime; We Post Maps
  • Urges Coordinated Follow-Through By City Hall Offices & Neighborhood Volunteers To Keep Areas Safe
  • Plans To Give Councilmembers Options On Police Staffing With Council Deciding Whether To Provide "A Porsche or a Volkswagen"; Says He'd Take Officer Increases If Council Provides Them, But Notes It's Their Call

    We provide extended transcript excerpts

    Chief Batts, Dec 5/02(December 9, 2002) -- LB Police Chief Anthony W. Batts has outlined a challenging plan -- "Take Back Our Streets" -- an effort to restore safety in crime impacted parts of the city.

    Chief Batts, a veteran LBPD officer and Deputy Chief appointed to Chief in October, indicated LBPD is focusing on restoring safety to crime impacted areas and urged a coordinated follow-through by City Hall agencies and neighborhood volunteers to keep neighborhoods safe.

    In an event unprecedented in our memory, LB's new Police Chief spoke extemporaneously for over 90 minutes, fielding questions from LB area media weeklies, biweeklies and the internet. We provide extended transcript excerpts below of Chief Batts' remarks during the December 5 morning meeting at LBPD HQ.

    Chief Batts indicated LBPD is focusing on violent and gang crime in 10 LBPD "beats." LBPD staff provided a map indicating the 10 focused beats (out of 24 citywide), which we have posted in pdf form. The focused beats are darkened or shaded, and include beats 6, 7 & 8 whose shading is hard to see. We've posted this map in pdf form on a link below.

    LBPD also provided a map plotting the geographic locations of selected serious crimes during October, 2002. This an eye-opening, important map. Details are somewhat hard to discern in the original, but the overall big picture speaks volumes. (The highest crime areas are consistent with the beats on which LBPD is focusing, above.)

    These maps are larger than usual pdf document files, because we had to use a "grayscale" setting to show detail. The beat map is roughly 930 kB and the map of selected serious crimes is 2.7 MB. That means if you're using a modem, downloading could take several minutes depending on your computer. To save you some memory, the links below do not trigger the opening of a separate browser window. When you're finished viewing or downloading the document(s), click "back" on your browser to return to this article.

    Both maps were presented publicly to the City Council during a November, 2002 LBPD agendized presentation discussing a federal police grant.

    Chief Batts urged LB residents to think of LB as a single city in which crime in one area is intolerable to all areas. In emotional, forceful terms, he lamented the fact that neighborhood conditions once considered unthinkable were now too often accepted. He urged residents to get angry about the status quo and vowed to help neighborhood groups willing to take Acton, not just talk. He supported a coordinated effort in which police restore safety, and City Hall offices (from city prosecutor to public works) and neighborhood residents make safety sustainable by preventing conditions from sliding backward.

    During the meeting, Chief Batts personally raised an issue discussed by grassroots activists for years: whether some of LB's chronic public safety problems are worsened by policies pursued by other levels of government. He explicitly mentioned the large number of parolees currently being sent to LB.

    On police staffing, Chief Batts noted that LBPD's research indicates there appears to be no single empirically accepted formula for the proper number of officers per capita. He said that (traditionally) 2.0 to (more recently) 2.5 officers per thousand was a national benchmark, but this was actually an average nationally...and densely populated east coast cities have high per capita police levels use different policing that deploys officers in fixed areas, while west coast cities have lower levels and different deployment practices.

    [Background: In Sept. 2002, the City Council budgeted 953 sworn officers, a level amounting to roughly 2.0 officers per thousand residents, roughly 36 more sworn officers than in the previous year's budget. They'll come at a local discount because management obtained a federal grant, but most won't arrive until late 2003...and about two dozen will be tasked to security duties at the Port and Airport, meaning the increase elsewhere will be about 10.]

    Chief Batts said he plans to offer Councilmembers options on police staffing so they can decide whether to budget "a Porsche" or "a Volkswagen" but noted it's ultimately the Council's decision.

    He said that moving officers out of prevention programs to deal with pressing violent or gang crime made it imperative that City Hall offices (like Parks and Rec) and non-profit and grassroots groups (with volunteers) fill the void.

    We post extended transcript excerpts below to provide detail and context. Chief Batts' remarks were extemporaneously delivered. Our transcript is unofficial, prepared by us. Ellipses indicate deletions.

    Violent and gang related crime

    ...We wanted to identify who's causing the problems and where the problems are occurring, and who are the victims...We have 24 [police] beats in the city...Out of the 24, we went back and took a look at where is the violence, which beats are the most violent beats, and we identified 10 out of 24 as those beats having more serious crime in them.

    And when we identified those, we started asking, do we have enough resources, police officers, the beat units to impact those crime areas? So we then started to look at our deployment to make sure that we heavily staffed in those areas that have a concern...

    Long range solutions

    ...We also wanted to look long range and look at our deployment systems to see as we make crime impacts, what's going to happen to that community and that neighborhood?...I think we traditionally have done a great job at suppressing crime. I think we do a very job of that, and I think that's why you saw almost a decade of crime reduction...Going in and putting people in jail is something that we do and we have an expertise, but what happens at the next stage? I mean, you can go in and you can make massive arrests, which we have over the last couple of months, what happens to that community next?

    Does that solve the problem? And the answer to that is that hasn't been the solution to the problem. If that was the solution to the problem, we would have solved the problem 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago, but we continuously deal with the same thing.

    So the next question then becomes, how do we sustain a neighborhood, how do we sustain a community, once we get past the suppression and stop people from losing lives, kids from losing lives out there by making those arrests? How do we hold that?

    Because once we put people in jail, at some point in time, they have to get out of jail, whether it be six months, whether it be a year, maybe three years, four years, five years, they're going to get out, and what's going to happen? They're going to go back to where their homes are, where there mothers are, where their girlfriends are, where their family and their kids are. They're going to go right back to that community.

    So the solution has to be that community, that neighborhood, and how do you sustain that neighborhood for five years, ten years, twenty years...

    You know the cure to it is going to be that the community has to get, as [new LAPD chief William Bratton] said "angry," and as I said, that we have to take back our streets because this is our community.

    We have to get out there and make a difference and the police department is not going to be the final answer or the final solution to it. We have so many bright minds in this make an impact, because thirty years of blight, twenty years of blight, ten years of blight on a community cannot be solved by the police organization.

    ...We have all these different [city] entities doing different things. We have public works doing their different things, we have nuisance abatement doing their things, we have a city prosecutor doing their things, we have a police department doing their things, they're doing them all over the city in different places, and what we need to do is try to align ourselves and kind of focus. To take all these different programs that everybody's doing a wonderful job at...and focus on what we're trying to do and how we're trying to accomplish that.

    And then outside, external to the organization [outside City Hall] we have all these non profits that are out there. We have people doing this for kids and that for kids, and all over the place, but there is no focus in how we're trying to attack this problem and who needs to address the problem.

    ...[W]e've already tried to internally in the organization [City Hall]...I have a number of [City Hall] entities saying, 'I think that's a great idea, let's sit down and let's work on it,' so we're putting together a number of try bring in alignment the resources of the city so we focus on the same problems, the same issues and the same areas, with a plan, with timelines.

    And I think we have to also outside of the organization, we have to send a sense of urgency to this community that we have lives that are being lost out there, and that we have to make a difference, and that everybody has to get involved.

    You can't say 'This is not my community' or 'I don't live in that area' or 'People are dying over there and so it doesn't matter to me.' This is a city as a whole. And it may not be in your front yard, but if we don't get a hold of it, those 10 [violent crime and gang impacted] beats that we identified will be 11 beats, will be 12 beats, will be 14, 15 beats. So we have to stop it now, and it has to be a sense of urgency in this community to make an impact, to make a difference in the community.

    Take Back Our Streets

    So what we're going to that we're going to start a campaign of Take Back Our Streets. And we're going to ask for volunteers...And it may take people out of their community. It may be your neighbors' community. It may be two communities over, but it'll be our city, making a difference, trying to take back our streets and sustaining our streets, not for a short amount of time because this solution will not be for one week, or just coming out one time, but to take back these communities, to make this a whole city, will be a long range commitment, and you have to have committed people.

    So I like to take all this energy and all these bright people, and bring into focus, but I don't want to walk into a room and talk about it. I don't want to walk into a room and 'Let's discuss' and 'Let's analyze' and 'Let's walk through this' and 'Do this and do that.' I want to say this is what we can do today, let's start focusing and let's make an impact now.

    Let's make people know, and let them understand, that we care about all parts of this city, and that we're going to take back the city as a whole and make it good for everyone who lives here.

    Police staffing level

    ...In my mindset, especially from my academic background, I was sure there had to be some type of scholarly research on 2.0 [officers] per thousand [residents], and I had the staff of Research and Development go back and try to dig and find out. I knew there had to be a document done in the '50s or the '40s that had some data that was out there so we could go back and check the data to make sure that was still correct...

    There is no research out there for 2.0 [officers] per thousand [residents]. What 2.0 per thousand was is the FBI came out with an average, they looked at the average number of police officers in cities throughout the United States, and at that point in time it was 2.0 per thousand. Actually right now, it's 2.5 per thousand so it's gone up significantly.

    2.0 per thousand for Long Beach, we're right on the cusp on budgeted numbers, I think 2.0 per thousand would be 954, and we have 950 [budgeted] roughly so we're budgeted for it now.

    With that said, the question becomes, how many police officers do you really need to police this city?

    Long Beach is an extremely dense city and what you can see is if you took a map where I identified those 10 [violent crime and gang impacted] beats for you, that we have the most serious crime in the city, those are also those areas that have the highest density of population. It's also the areas that are most impoverished. It's also the areas that have the least recreation in it.

    It's those areas that you just overlap all of these challenges for this community, are all in the same locations, in the same areas. That means that we have police differently...

    [Mentions new LAPD Chief Wm. Bratton] The east coast philosophy of policing is different than the west coast philosophy of policing. The east coast philosophy is they have higher numbers of police officers. In those major cities like New York and Washington, D.C. they have somewhere close to probably about 4.0 [officers] per thousand [residents] or 5.0 per thousand, and we're [locally] looking at 2.0 per thousand, I mean that's a dramatic difference.

    In the city of New York you have 40,000 police officers. 40,000 police officers! I mean you have basically an army of police officers out there. So what that allows you to do is as you go through areas and you clean them up, you can put fixed posts in those positions...After you clean it, you can sustain it by putting people there and they just walk there all day and that's how they solve their problem...

    Now listening to Bratton talking about that, I'm saying, we're not there on the west coast, and that's just not for L.A. or Long Beach, that's the west coast style of policing. We don't have those heavy numbers, and have never had those heavy numbers...

    ...What we've done on the west coast traditionally is that we have to take our numbers and be very efficient at what we do, we have to be very innovative in what we do...

    The reality is, I can never go before Council if they ask me honestly, 'Is there a point in time where you don't need police officers?' I can't say 'I don't need police officers.' I'm always going to need police officers, as many as you can give me I can take them...I can be a sponge and take in those numbers because I can always use them. I can always put more people on fixed post, or walking beats, or bike beats,...and be comfortable and do a good job at doing those things.

    I have to take into account that the more police officers...I ask for, that means libraries, that means parks, that means prevention programs that are out there, that are sucked up and diluted at the same time. So there's a balance, the city has so much money.

    And what my job go in...and tell them, 'What do you want?' I can tell them, 'Do you want a Porsche or do you want a Volkswagen?' And my job is to give them options, and that's what I'm going to go in in the future, and I'm going to tell them, 'If this was Nirvana, and I had my way, and I could get 40,000 police officers, this is what I could do.' And that's what I'm going to tell them. 'That's a Lamborghini, that's a Porsche.' If I had all the police officers in the world, this is how I would police the city. And then I have to give them multiple options to let them pick and choose. 'We can give you this much money, sustain this city on a lot of different levels.'

    Because what's happening right now, is I'm looking at the organization [the city] and I'm saying, 'What is our core mission?' And because we have budgetary concerns, I'm pulling away from things that we've, we've become a full service police department. We have PAL [Police Athletic League, a youth program], we have DARE, we have helicopters, we have canines, we have [this] array of different programs in this city that we've expanded to, and we've pulled from our core mission. What I'm doing, and what we're doing as a team, is looking at that core mission, and things are now focused on dealing with violent crime to gang related things and sustaining those communities, we're going back into doing those things.

    And as I move away from some of those things that we've traditionally done with prevention and intervention along those lines, other entities in this city are going to have to step into that void. Parks and rec are going to have to step into that void. Libraries are going to have to step into that void. All these things are going to have to come on line.

    ...There's a cause and effect to everything that we do. If I pull away from PAL, and I shut down our PAL facilities we have three in the city, if I take those police officers out of that PAL facility and put them back into that beat car, those kids who we'd watch from 2 o'clock to 7 o'clock were not on the streets. What we're trying [to do is] impact with character building, value building, and to make sure that they'd stay good citizens. We're not just doing sports in those things. We have computers, we're trying to impact character, we're trying to impact values, long range sustainability.

    Those kids will be out there on that street. Those'll be those kids out there getting into activities, dysfunctional activities perhaps that they shouldn't be doing. Because there's parents out there who are working, and in those neighborhoods, in those ten beats that I'm talking about, some of those parents have two, three or four jobs trying to keep a family going, and they can't watch those kids. And the only way that those kids are safe are in these facilities, so there's a balance in that.

    ...So the long range answer to [staffing levels] is I'm going to tell them [Councilmembers] how much staff we need when we look at the density, and I'm going to give them [Councilmembers] options on what they need to pick and how we need to balance this city, because I think that from a policy issue they need to balance this city.

    Public involvement

    ...We have neighborhood groups in East Long Beach, we have neighborhood groups in North Long Beach, we have neighborhood groups at the Pier and downtown, when do they ever meet and get together and say 'Let's make a difference.' I mean that's what's got to be done.

    Enough of the talking. Enough of the analysis. But to do something as a city, as a community. And somebody has to step up to the plate say 'Hey, I'm willing to try this.' And it can't be the institution [City Hall]. The wild, wild west wasn't won by John Wayne, it was won by the citizens saying 'We're tired of this stuff.'

    ...Why do we accept so many parolees in this city? I mean we have tons of parolees in this city. We have tons of motels that we give vouchers to, and nobody's standing up saying let's stop this stuff. And we've got to deal with it.

    We have tons of mentally ill people out on the streets of Long Beach. Who's standing up, saying, 'We've got to make a difference and stop this'?

    I mean we've got prostitution going on out here, and we send resources out there time and time again to address it, when does the community say 'We don't want to tolerate this any more?'

    I mean think about it. If you go to the nice communities in other places where you don't see this type of stuff, they don't tolerate that stuff.

    They don't tolerate recycling places coming in and not putting security officers out there to make an impact. They don't tolerate it.

    There's just kind of a level of tolerance in this city that says 'OK.' Well we have to say, 'Enough.' We're not going to tolerate this.

    I mean dealing with parolees which is a County thing, or a state thing, the citizens have to stand up and say 'Pay attention to this' and they've got to hear our voices, not looking at Tony Batts to say 'solve it.' The city has to stand up...

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