Within Next 72 Hours, Mayor & City Mgr. Will Either Propose Actually Funding FY13 Replenishment Police Academy Class , Or (Again) Propose Diverting Funding To Pay Current Officers Ensuring More Attrition. Either Way, LB Police Level Is Likely To Fall Further First
|(July 30, 2012) -- Within the next 72 hours (by Wednesday Aug. 1, Mayor Bob Foster is scheduled to release city management's proposed budget with this recommendations to the City Council and thus to the public.
On July 26, the PressTelegram.com headlined that the Mayor's office has "confirmed" that the proposed budget will include a police academy class. That may or may not be news because every budget proposed by the City Manager for the past three budget years has routinely included funding for a replenishment police academy class.
The reason taxpayers didn't receive replenishment police academy classes in the last three fiscal years -- and instead saw LB's police level drop by over 160 officers (which LB's Police Chief expects to reach 200 by this time next year) -- is because Council majorities (9-0 until September 2011 when Schipske, Gabelich and Neal dissented) agreed with Mayor Foster (without management dissent) and "balanced" City Hall's budget in part by diverting police academy funing to pay for current officers.
That enabled attrition that let some Council incumbents boast that LB hadn't "laid off" any police officers, a fatuous claim, since letting current officers retire while not replacing them ensures that police levels for taxpayers will fall (to produce budget "savings").
What would be news in the next 72 hours is if city management proposes AND Mayor Foster recommends a FY13 budget that actually uses police academy class funding for a police academy class AND proposes budgeting sums from elsewhere to try and stabilize current officer levels.
Savvy LBReport.com readers know there's some reason to believe that's in the works. LBReport.com was first (again) to report in June that then-Councilman (now Vice Mayor) Robert Garcia, who for the past three years joined in decimating LBPD levels, signaled at the public meeting last month that won't vote for a budget in September 2012 (for FY13) that didn't include funding for a police academy class.
We speculate that this means that Mayor Foster will propose some way to fund current officers without diverting police academy funding in FY13. If that happens, it would be news.
On July 26, we asked the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Becki Ames what the Mayor proposes to do. She was scrupulously accurate and predictably inscrutable. "I can confirm that police academy funding is in the F13 proposed budget and that the Mayor intends to transmit the entire budget for Council consideration in accordance with the August 1st charter deadline. The Mayor will be discussing more details then."
Sadly, whatever the Manager and Mayor propose for FY13 likely won't stop a further drop in LB's police level. Last week, Police Chief McDonnell indicated (confirmed by East Division Commander Beckman at a July 23 public meeting) that he [the Chief] anticipates losing another 40 officers by year end. We doubt a replenishment Academy Class will offset all of that loss, and the six month class (which we speculate will deliver roughly 20 officers at most) likely won't start immediately; we expect management will try to delay it as late as possible into FY13.
Chief McDonnell estimated that management's proposed budget would leave LB with a total level of 760 officers by December 2012. When one excludes the sixty contracted officers who aren't available for routine citywide deployment (because they're paid for and contracted to handle tasks at the Port, Airport, LBCC, LBUSD and LB Transit), that would leave LB with roughly 700 budgeted officers for routine citywide tasks by the start of 2013. That would amount to roughly 1.4-1.5 officers per thousand residents. Long Beach hasn't had a level that low since the early 1990s when City Hall hired L.A. County Sheriffs to patrol parts of NLB and ELB.
By way of comparison: Los Angeles currently budgets roughly 2.5-2.6 officers per thousand residents. Signal Hill budgets over 3.0 per thousand. At its height in 2008, LB City Hall provided barely 2.0 officers per thousand residents.
If the Chief's numerical estimated officer level with anticipated budget reductions for the close of 2012 is accurate, LBReport.com applies some basic math: if LB ends up with roughly 700 police officers available for citywide deployment, Long Beach businesses and residents would enter 2013 with a police level for citywide deployment roughly equivalent per capita to L.A. eliminating over 40% of L.A.P.D's current officers.
Stay with LBReport.com to learn what the City Manager and Mayor propose for FY13. It's coming within the next 72 hours or so.
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