Inconvenient Truths vs. Flinching Crime Stats & Bureaucratically Boosted PD Staffing


(June 13, 2012) -- Two newsworthy events took place at yesterday's (June 12) meeting of the City Council's Public Safety Committee (chair Garcia, vice chair Schipske, member Johnson):

  • (1) LBPD management indicated it's preparing a field-test/demonstration some type of gunfire-location technology (although not the "ShotSpotter" system that had been generically discussed for the $350,000 that the Council budgeted in Oct. 2011 from oil revenue).

  • (2) Wrigley neighborhood advocate Colleen McDonald spoke truthfully and without flinching about crime impacts that her neighborhood has experienced. Annie Greenfeld-Wisner amplified this by noting that the end of Weed and Seed federal grant funding coincided with the Council's failure to replenish those officers. will have more on these newsworthy items separately.

    Speaking inconvenient truths to elected officials is exactly what's necessary on public safety now. Sadly, and perhaps understandably, we observed bureaucratic flinching LBPD management at the Committee meeting.

    First and most conspicuously: LB's Police Chief wasn't present. The uncomfortable Committee task was assigned to Administration Bureau Chief Braden Phillips. (Note: Mr. Phillips is meticulously accurate.)

    LBPD management -- battered by several years of Mayor advised, Council majority inflicted cuts -- gave Committee members an accurate but flinching version of LBPD crime statistics -- "citywide" with no embarrassing geographic breakdowns -- and bureaucratically boosted police staffing numbers -- that include roughly 60 sworn LBPD officers (59 to be exact) that the Council doesn't budget and aren't available for citywide/neighborhood responses because they're contracted and paid by the Port, Airport, LBCC, LBUSD, LB Transit & LA County/Carmelitos to handle their policing needs.

    Providing "citywide" crime data without geographic breakouts masks disproportionate crime impacts endured by neighborhoods from east to west, north to south. Including 60 officers that the Council DOESN'T budget when discussing police levels that the Council DOES budget is a fiscal-falsie padding reality for the sake of appearances.

    When management did this at the Jan. 31 Public Safety Commitee meeting, we scrambled to the podium to make sure our figures were accurate. On June 12, management did it again and we again came to the podium to make sure our figures were accurate (details to follow separately).

    The roughly 60 contracted officers that the Council doesn't budget haven't been cut while the Council-budgeted police level has been devastated by Mayor/management/Council majority "proportional" budget reductions. By our reckoning, those budget votes have now left LB taxpayers with roughly 17.4% fewer citywide budgeted deployable officers than LB had in 2008, resulting from budget votes in Sept. 2009 (unanimous), 2010 (unanimous) and 2011 (6-3, Schipske, Gabelich, Neal offering alternative rejected by Council majority).

    At the same time, the roughly 60 contracted officers (not available citywide) now comprise a larger pecentage of LBPD's total officers.

    By our math, 168 sworn positions eliminated [source: LBPD mgm't, June 12, 2012] divided by 961 (highest budgeted sworn officer level in LB history in FY 2008) equals a 17.4% reduction in LBPD Council-budgeted officer positions to date.

    Yes, LBPD's Council-budgeted General Fund funded officers at its maximum only reached 961, not 1,020 (the latter figure includes those nearly 60 contracted officers). And we're being generous, because the 961 max included 17 ghost recruits in the first (of several) ghost police academy classes that were budgeted but didn't materialize because the City Council spent the money to pay then-current officers. Some of those officers then retired and weren't replenished the next year and so forth.

    At the committee meeting, LBPD management indicated it will propose funding a replenishment police academy class in FY13...but that isn't news UNLESS a Council majority votes in September to use the management budgeted money for a real replenishment academy class (not a ghost academy) AND simultaneously manages to continue to funding LB's depleted officer levels. Management didn't say for now exactly how it will propose that the Council do both.

    Committee chair Garcia sounded supportive of actually budgeting a police academy class in FY13 but made no commitment. Committee member Schipske has been on record since late January 2012 as favoring a police academy class immediately.

    Committee member Johnson boasted that there have been no layoffs thus far, which is accurate, but in our opinion is spin because it avoids mentioning that nearly 20% of previously budgeted police officers are no longer budgeted for LB taxpayers.

    Further to follow on

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