Mayor Garcia Tacitly Admits He Has No Plan On How To Restore 20% Of City's Police Level That He Voted As Councilman (2009-2014) To Erase, Says City Mgr. Will Offer "Public Safety Plan" That Garcia Suggested And May Focus On More Than Police
|(July 2, 2021, 7:10 p.m.) -- In a July 2 Mayor/City Mgm't media roundtable (full video below), Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia tacitly admitted that despite voter approval of the Measure A (2016 "temporary" version enacted/2020 extended permanently) sales tax increase, he has no plan on how to restore the 20% of City's police level (roughly 200 officers) that he voted to erase as 2009-2014 Councilman.
Pressed by LBREPORT.com on his record as a Councilman and Mayor (publisher Pearl said "no city can erase 20% of its police and not impact public safety") Pearl asked Garcia for his plan to restore those roughly 200 erased officers and the 48 additional officers "defunded" by the Council in Sept. 2020, Garcia didn't dispute Pearl's statement but didn't provide a responsive answer (including on two follow-ups) on any plan on his part or whether he believes any officers should be restored.
Garcia said he'll wait for a LB city management to agendize the "Safety Response Plan" that he requested and City Mgr. Modica indicated will address overtime now allocated to Chief Luna to put more officers on the street (in response to recent shootings) and will also present a "more coordinated" plan that will "talk not just about police response but also non-police programs."
LB Mayors offer budget recommendations but a City Council majority ultimately decides how many officers to budget for LB taxpayers. As a result of a prior Council under then-Mayor Bob Foster erasing 20% of LB's police level, LB's per capita police level today remains significantly thinner than Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Signal Hill..and the Council's Sept. 2020 FY21 police defunding made LB's level thinner. The erased officers include LBPD's former field anti-gang unit (20 officers + 2 sergeants.)
At the briefing, LBPD Chief Robert Luna said shootings had increased nearly 59% in the first six months of 2021 compared to 2020. LBPD has told LBREPORT.com that LB had 151 total shooting incidents year to date (through June 2020), but has had 240 total shooting incidents yea to date (through June 2021.)
Mayor Garcia acknowledged that shootings are up but said murders and other serious crimes have decreased from what they were in prior years. "Long Beach is safer today than it was 20 years ago, 30 years ago and 40 years ago," Mayor Garcia said. He added, "That does not diminish the seriousness of the crimes happening today. The amount of shootings that are happening today is unacceptable but the city from a safety perspective is safer today than 20, 30, 40 years ago."
Mayor Garcia said he's asked city management and various department heads to put together a robust "Safety Recovery Plan" that would include funding or needs to add dress not just policing but other needs in the city."
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