Police Response Times And Young Lives: A Budget Warning
by Doug Drummond *
by Doug Drummond *
|Total positives (red dots) and deaths (black dots)||Daily new reported positive cases
||Hospitalizations daily (light blue) and updated (dark blue)|
|(June 18, 2020) -- A City of Long Beach financial crisis was solved in the 1980’s with a huge police budget reduction. Motorcycle officers were eliminated, field forces were drastically reduced, decisions were made to handle many services with telephoned reports, and as a result, crime slowly escalated along with emergency calls.
As time passed so few officers were available that it sometimes took hours to answer shooting calls and other emergencies. It was a public safety crisis. The public demand for better service soared.
Below are listed homicides by year.
[Scroll down for further.]
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In this ten-year period 890 people were murdered. Many of these murders were gang shootings. Most victims were young men of color. Because of the results, this neglect of resources could have resulted in accusations that it was racist by design. I truly do not think that was the case. In my opinion it was a combination of lack of attention and misplaced priorities. Until the public demanded that leadership recognize the crisis, the impact was left to the many sad grieving families. I believe that less than half this number would have been killed if LBPD had been adequately staffed. City Hall was asleep.
I retired form LBPD at the end of 1988, ran for City Council in the 3rd District, was elected, went to City Hall, and was one of those that worked to persuade the City Council to address the crime problem. I was discouraged when I heard fellow Council members say, "More police won't help." It was a political battle. Finally, after struggling with a Sheriff’s contract for part of our city, the City Council came together, a utility tax was created, resources returned to LBPD and slowly people were hired, trained, and committed. The decline in murders was dramatic. It took several years to re-build.
The year I left Council (1998) our homicides had fallen to 38. The men and women of LBPD had responded and did a fantastic job.
We must have officers available in all parts pf the city at all hours to handle emergency calls. Motorcycle officers, while working traffic problems, can quickly answer emergency calls. Unit cars can patrol, answer routine calls, and still immediately respond to emergencies.
A vital community must be safe, for everyone.
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