When The Looting Began, LB Ran Out Of Police Officers. By The Numbers: Details On LB's Thin Police Level....And The LB Mayor/Council Actions That Left L.A. County's Second Largest City With Significantly Fewer Cops Per Capita Than L.A.
|Total positives (red dots) and deaths (black dots)||Daily new reported positive cases
LB Hospitalizations (from Apr. 20): Red bars = Snapshot 12:01 a.m. Blue bars = Updated daily|
|The article below expands on text reported on LBREPORT.com's front page at dawn June 1.
(June 1, 2020) -- Within an hour of the start of a large but peaceful May 31 protest march over the Minneapolis PD-involved death of George Floyd, LBPD realized it was in trouble. A day earlier, a peaceful protest in LA turned into looting. Int he 4 p.m. hour, LBPD began seeking "mutual aid" from other nearby jurisdictions. By the 5 p.m. hour, when the looting had begun at the Pike and spread across LB in the hours that followed, LB's gleaming new Civic Center buildings were protected by fencing, but businesses and neighborhoods from Downtown to North town were effectively left defenseless.
Amid controversy over whether preparations for the event were or weren't adequate, the more fundamental and less anacknowledged fact is that Long Beach -- L.A. County's second largest City -- currently provides its businesses and residents with a budgeted sworn police level so thin that it's roughly equivalent per capita to cutting over a third of L.A.'s police level.
Virtually no responsible elected official in Los Angeles would advise such a thing. But in Long Beach, it's the opposite: no current elected officials, or major business organizations or neighborhood groups previously objected. Whether that changes now remains to be seen.
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Long Beach's Mayor/City Council currently budgets roughly 1.6 officers per thousand residents. By comparison, L.A.'s Mayor/Council budget roughly 2.47 officers per thousand residents (not including Airport/Port police.) Signal Hill, surrounded by Long Beach, budgets roughly 3.15 sworn officers per thousand residents for its taxpayers.
It wasn't always like this. Entering the 2008 budget year, Long Beach had roughly 2.0 officers per thousand residents.
Within a few months, the economy slowed and after stock market tanked and the "Great Recession" began, Mayor Foster responded by recommending, and a Council (that included then-Councilman Robert Garcia) voted to approve "proportional budget reductions." Over the next five years, the Council voted to erase the largest number of police officers for LB taxpayers in the more than 100 year history of the City of Long Beach.
Mayor Foster subsequently obtained pension reforms from all of the city's public employee unions in subsequent contracts but the police staffing damages were done. The net result left Long Beach taxpayers without (at its maximum) 208 fewer budgeted citywide deployable officers (not contracted to other agencies) out of (at its height) 944 budgeted officers (not contracted) plus 17 for a replenishment academy class. Other area cities weathered the "Great Recession" without cutting roughly 20% of their police levels.
Since then, under budgets recommended by Mayor Garcia, the Council has restored 22 of 208 previously erased officers, but LB remains without roughly 186 citywide deployable budgeted officers that LB taxpayers previously had.
Mayor Garcia responded to June 2016 LB voters' approval of the Measure A General fund ("blank check") by proposing a FY17 budget that would restore 8 of the 208 erased officers. At an August 2016 Council district meeting on the proposed budget, LBREPORT.com asked then-1st district Councilwoman (now state Senator) Lena Gonzalez if she favored restoring more than the 8 officers recommended by Mayor Garcia. (The 1st district was, and still is, the Council district with LB's highest number of shootings and homicides.) Then-Councilwoman Gonzalez responded by trying to cover our camera lens
Some of LB's downtown areas worst impacted by the May 31, 2020 looting are in the 1st Council district.
In early 2017, Councilman/then-Vice Mayor Rex Richardson pressed to restore Rescue 12 plus 9 additional officers...and the Council did so, restoring a total of 17 in FY17.
In FY18. the Mayor/Council restored no additional citywide deployable officers.
For FY19, Mayor Garcia recommended restoring 6 citywide deployable (bicycle patrol) officers while city management proposed shifting one citywide deployable officer to an Airport-contracted position, producing a net increase from FY18 to FY19 of 5 additional routine citywide deployable budgeted officers. The Mayor didn't change his recommended figure for FY20 and no Councilmember(s) objected or offered contrary motions.
The City of Long Beach currently provides LB taxpayers with a budgeted sworn police level for routine citywide deployment of roughly 1.6 officers per thousand residents.) .
By comparison, L.A.'s Mayor/Council currently budget roughly 2.47 officers per thousand residents (not including Airport/Port police.) Signal Hill, surrounded by Long Beach, currently budgets roughly 3.15 sworn officers per thousand residents for its taxpayers.
City management's FY20 budget, recommended by Mayor Garcia, included 851 total officers of which 97 are contracted to other entities (and not available for routine citywide deployment.) The net effect is that LB neighborhoods citywide have is 754 budgeted sworn citywide deployable officers (851 total - 97 contracted = 754 budgeted sworn citywide deployable.)
In August 2018, Mayor Robert Garcia defended the slow pace of officer restorations. LBREPORT.com coverage (with audio) here.
City management has indicated that restoring 10 LBPD officers ("fully turned out" with equipment) can be roughly estimated for budget planning to cost about $2 million. In the 2008 budget year, before City Hall received the $60+ million annual revenue infusion from Measure A, the City provided LB taxpayers with over 180 more budgeted police officers that LB's current Mayor/Council haven't restored for taxpayers despite LB voters' approval of the Measure A sales tax.
Measure A was a GeneraL Fund ("blank check") sales tax revenue item, and although it has been used for a number of infrastructure items and to bolster public safety budgeted spending, it also effectively freed up other General Fund sums that the City could use to fund police and firefighter union raises, as well as raised for city management. (LB's police and firefighter unions were the two largest financial contributions to the campaign for the Measure A sales tax increase.) .
In calculating the officer-to-population ratio, LBREPORT.com used the most recent updated population estimates for CA cities provided by the CA Dept.of Finance (Demographic Research Unit Report E-1.)
The LB ratio doesn't include officers that the Council doesn't allocate or pay-for; that number is decided and paid for by various entities that contract with LBPD to provide police services for them at LB's Port, Airport, LBUSD, LBCC, LBTransit, L.A. County Carmelitos housing and Metro. Contracted officers aren't routinely available during their contracted shifts to respond to citywide needs or to calls for service where you live (unless you live in the Port, the Airport or on a LBTransit bus or a Metro train.) If the number of contracted officers were included, LB's budgeted police level would be roughly 1.79 officers per thousand.
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