On April 30, Long Beach City Council's "Public Safety Committee" Met; Price and Austin Mum Re Restoring LBPD Field Anti-Gang Unit And Supernaw Offered This Reasoning To Rationalize NOT Restoring It; Since Then, LB Has Had 21 Shooting Crime Scenes (None In His District)
|(June 7, 2019, 9:20 a.m.) -- On April 30, 2019 -- just days before a series of (to date) 21 shooting crime scenes (fatal + non-fatal + no-person-hit), the Long Beach City Council's Public Safety Committee (chair: Suzie Price; vice chair: Daryl Supernaw; member: Al Austin) met to hear items that included an LBPD presentation on "current gang intervention strategies."
The item occurred in the context of the City Council's approval of Mayor/management recommended budgets that haven't restored funding for LBPD's former 22-member field anti-gang unit. Until FY13, LB taxpayers had an LBPD field anti-gang unit consisting of 20 budgeted officers + 2 sergeants allocated specifically to gang-plagued neighborhoods where they could consistently communicate, interact and develop relationships with residents and businesses, observe conditions and collect intelligence. For a detailed chronology of how LB taxpayers lost their field anti-gang unit under Mayors Foster and Garcia and their respective Councils, click here.
(Failing to restore funding for the field anti-gang unit takes place in the context of the Mayor/Council's failure to restore 186 citywide deployable police officers that LB taxpayers previously had, leaving LB with the thin per capita police level detailed here.)
[Scroll down for further.]
LBPD does have an anti-gang unit. It actively investigates shootings, identifies and locates suspects, makes arrests, testifies in court and handles related matters. In addition, each LBPD Division (North, South, East and West) has a Directed Enforcement Team to handle specific assignments as directed by each Division's Commander. Those specific assignments can include gang issues as well as multiple other policing needs including quality of life and various neighborhood impacting crimes.
But without LBPD's field anti-gang unit, each of the four Directed Enforcement Teams now try to perform functions similar to what the field anti-gang unit performed. The net result is less than what LB taxpayers previously received. LB taxpayers previously had a field anti-gang unit plus four flexibly deployed "Directed Enforcement Teams" available to handle multiple issues. Now LB taxpayers have no field anti-gang unit and the Division's Directed Enforcement Teams now have to deal with escalating gang issues during which time they can't devote attention to other community policing needs.
At the April 30, 2019 Public Safety Committee meeting, 4th district Councilman Daryl Supernaw (facing re-election in March 2020) sought to portray the status quo as basically providing the same anti-gang functions as previously...and in effect discouraged members of the community from bringing up the subject again.
Below is a transcript of a salient portion of that April 30, 2019 agenda item. It took place just days before LB's string of shootings began.
Councilman Supernaw: I'm going to bring up a topic that has appeared before and that is field gang units, and to our esteemed chair here she's probably say "asked and answered" in her parlance but I think it bears repeating just so members of the community don't bring this up again.
(Audio of the full agenda item (LBPD testimony plus Councilmembers' responses) runs about 22 minutes. LBREPORT.com has made it easily accessible on-demand at this link.)
Councilman Supernaw hasn't applied similar reasoning to justify the Mayor/Council's failure -- despite his persistent efforts -- to fund restoration of Fire Engine 17 at Station 17 (Argonne Ave.) in the eastern part of his district. He hasn't tried to justify the status quo by arguing that Engines 5 and 19 already perform a similar "function" to what Engine 17 performed. That's because the status quo is less on a serious public safety matter than what LB taxpayers previously had and deserve.
A little over two years earlier on Dec. 6, 2016 (about six months after LB voters approved the Measure A "blank check" sales tax increase), LBPD Deputy Chief Richard Conant told the Public Safety Committee (responding to a question by Supernaw) that as a result of the Mayor/Council's decision to end funding for the field anti-gang unit, LBPD uses its gang intel team plus Directed Enforcement Team plus a crime analyst to try to replicate what the field anti-gang unit previously did. He said it's "similar," not the same...and a close reading shows it's clearly less than what LB taxpayers previously received.
Deputy Chief Conant "...Our gang field team was a in-the-field rollin' around responsive team to calls. In place of that, since fiscal cuts, we are utilizing our Direct Enforcement Team in a similar fashion. As you know, our Direct Enforcement Team is a proactive team that handles our quality of life related issues and/or acts as an immediate response team for Divisional Commanders for gang crimes, and any criminal trend or crime trend that may be occurring in a respective Division. Our Direct Enforcement Teams work in conjunction with out gang intel team, effectively working as an extension of the gang enforcement unit...
On April 30, 2019, LBPD Commander Smith told the Council's Public Safety Committee that Long Beach "is home to nearly two dozen documented local street gangs and several other regional gangs that frequent our city for a variety of reasons." In the roughly six weeks since he spoke, LB has had 21 shooting crime scenes, most of which disproportionately impacted historically disadvantaged families and businesses in working class neighborhoods.
In 2018, LB Financial Management Department told LBREPORT.com that restoring 10 citywide deployable officers (fully turned-out/equipped) would cost (figure for rough budget estimate purposes) about $2 million. That would put the budgeted cost of restoring LBPD's field anti-gang unit (20 officers + 2 sergeants) at a little over $4 million.
In June 2016, LB voters approved the Mayor-sought/Council enabled Measure A General Fund ("blank check") sales tax increase giving LB City Hall over $50 million more each year. At the same time, LB's Mayor hasn't recommended, and LB's Council hasn't restored, LBPD's field anti-gang unit and 186 citywide deployable police officers that LB taxpayers had and no longer have. .
For a continually updated chart showing LB shootings/homicides by Council district click here.
Opinions expressed by LBREPORT.com, our contributors and/or our readers are not necessarily those of our advertisers. We welcome our readers' comments/opinions 24/7 via Disqus, Facebook and moderate length letters and longer-form op-ed pieces submitted to us at mail@LBReport.com.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Recommend LBREPORT.com to your Facebook friends:
Follow LBReport.com with:
Contact us: mail@LBReport.com
Hardwood Floor Specialists
Call (562) 422-2800 or (714) 836-7050