|(Jan. 3, 2018, 12:45 p.m.) -- Mayor Robert Garcia and LBPD Chief Robert Luna held a press event at LBPD HQ today to highlight a decrease in Long Beach murders to a historic low (since LBPD began computer-accessible recorded crime stats in 1968), dropping from 33 killings in 2016 to 22 in 2017 for a decrease of 33.3%, which LBPD says includes a 42.1% decrease in gang-related murders. LB's 2017 homicide total is one fewer than LB had in 2014 with 23 murders.
The drop in LB's murders parallels decreases in murders in the City of Los Angeles and in L.A. County areas patrolled by the Sheriff's Dept. (although not to their respective historic lows.) On Dec. 29, L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced a 20.5% drop in murders across areas patrolled by LASD, including a 55.2% reduction in murders in Compton and a 35.1% reduction in Lakewood.
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In a release, Mayor Garcia called LB's 33.3% homicide decrease "a huge win for the people of Long Beach" and said "the city has dramatically become safer over the last decades thanks to the men and women of the LBPD and community partnerships. Every life lost is still a tragedy, so we will continue to press on to make Long Beach even safer."
LBPD crime stats through November show aggravated assaults (a category that includes shootings as well as serious domestic violence) increased 11.5% in LB when tallied citywide, with increases of 30.8% in LBPD's West Division. 23.8% in LBPD's North Division, and 1.6% in LBPD's South Division. (In East Division, aggravated assaults decreased by 14.2%.)
LBPD data also show that through November 2017 LB had more robberies and more commercial burglaries in 2017 than through November in 2016.
In the release, LBPD attributed the drop in gang-related murders to "enhanced gang enforcement efforts, which include a dedicated detective to apprehend prohibited possessors, and continued law enforcement partnerships with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to remove guns off the streets. Additional strategies include:
[LBPD release text]
LBPD's release doesn't indicate whether LB's shootings in 2017 increased, decreased or remained roughly the same. Without access to those figures, it's unclear if LB murders declined due to fewer shootings, or despite increased shootings, or for other reasons (including the bullet taking a non-lethal trajectory.) In contrast to Long Beach, the City of Los Angeles routinely includes data on the number of "shots fired" and "shooting victims" as part of its periodic crime data updates.
As of Dec. 16, LAPD said aggravated assaults (including domestic violence) were up by 6.0%, while "shots fired" dropped by 12.6% and "shooting victims" fell by 11.2%, and homicides declined by roughly 6.2%.
In L.A. County areas patrolled by LASD, aggravated assaults dropped by 2.2%; in Compton, aggravated assaults declined 1.7% while in Lakewood, they increased 47.4%.
Of LB's 19 murder crime scenes (some had more than one fatality), LBREPORT.com notes that Council districts 1, 6 and 8 had four each (including Dec. 29 BK/8th dist. workplace murder/suicide); districts 2 and 9 had three, and district 3 had one (a domestic violence murder/suicide.)
For several years, LBREPORT.com has continually documented an inequity we've called a "tale of two cities" in which large parts of Long Beach (mainly eastern areas) have none or nearly no shootings, while portions of central LB, northern downtown and west and north Long Beach areas experience shootings at disproportionately high levels.
LBREPORT.com's unofficial tally of 2017 LBPD-confirmed shootings (from stories we reported) indicates the largest number of shootings occurred in parts of LB's 1st and 6th Council districts. Over half of 59 shootings we reported in 2017 (fatal, non-fatal and no-hit) took place in 1st Council district and the 6th Council district or in areas bordering the two districts.
LBREPORT.com individually confirmed each shooting we reported with LBPD before reporting them but we may have missed some so our numbers are unofficial and may be under-stated. In 2017, LBREPORT.com reported:
LBREPORT.com believes the number of officially-reported LB shootings is likely under-counted -- not wilfully misreported by LBPD but factually undercounted -- because LB's Mayor, City Council and LBPD management haven't supported budgeting use of the high tech "shotspotter" gunfire location system. The manufacturer says the system documents all gunfire, including instances when shots were in fact fired that residents may not report and officers may not find on their own.
In terms of other violent crimes (caveat: through November 2017), Long Beach robberies increased 9.2% citywide, with increases of 40.8% in West Division, 25% in North Division but decreases of 19.6% in South Division and 2.8% in East Division.
Likewise through November 2017, commercial burglaries increased 4.2% citywide, with increases of 12% in West Division, 8.4% in North Division, and 5.7% in South Division, but offset in part by 1.8%..
On December 30, LATimes.com reported that City of Los Angeles homicides declined 6% in 2017 (after increases in two prior years) with 271 killings through Dec. 16 compared to 289 in 2016. LATimes.com also noted that violent crime in the City of L.A. increased in 2017 (for the 4th year in a row) with robberies up by 6%, aggravated assaults up by 5%, with property crimes also up by 1%.
Since June 2016 LB voter approval of Measure A "blank check" sales tax increase (bringing LB the highest sales tax rate among all CA cities tied with only a few locally), LB Councils have restored 17 officers out of 208 erased. LB taxpayers currently have 191 fewer budgeted officers citywide than when Robert Garcia was first elected to the Council in 2009. (Mayor Foster was elected in 2006 with a pledge to put 100 more officers on the street during his first four-year term; other area cities weathered the "great recession" without erasing roughly 20% of their police officers which Mayor Foster recommended and LB Councils (with some dissents in 2011) approved.
Long Beach taxpayers currently receive a citywide deployable police level roughly equivalent per capita to what Los Angeles would have if L.A. Mayor Garcetti and the L.A. City Council "balanced" L.A.'s budget by erasing over 25% of LAPD's officers.
On Dec. 30, 2017, LATimes.com reported that the president of L.A. police officers' union attributed L.A. crime increases to a shortage of officers...and said LAPD needs at least 25% more officers. In contrast, the Long Beach Police Officers Association didn't testify against Mayor-recommended, Council-approved budgets that erased over 20% of LB's citywide deployable budgeted officers for taxpayers and hasn't urged any further restorations of officers for taxpayers.
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