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|(June 10, 2020, 5:40 a.m.) -- A June 9 City Council agenda item about a criticized (as ineffective) City Hall police complaint commission turned into a nearly 45 minute Council colloquy with LBPD Chief Robert Luna after a large peaceful May 31 demonstration turned into looting and vandalism downtown followed by crowd confrontations with police as looting spread into other parts of the city.
LBREPORT.com provides extended on-demand AUDIO here.
"I believe we all owe our officers a huge debt of gratitude, who came to work, they didn't hesitate to get on the front lines and took abuse like you would not believe, from name calling to getting urine and feces thrown on them to being attacked with bottles, rocks and M-100s. And most of them are still working straight with no days off. So as we talk about our police officers, the defenders of our community, I hope we don't forget the job they've done this last week," said Chief Luna.
The colloquy began when 2nd dist. Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce posed questions to Chief Luna to which he responded extemporaneously in extended form. Pearce mainly sought additional information that Chief Luna provided or said LBPD is compiling and would provide in the coming days. Pearce didn't criticize LBPD's actions and at one point praised LBPD officers for showing restraint while facing a hostile crowd downtown.
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Pearce's questions prompted other Councilmembers to speak. Some also sought additional information; others bloviated at some length; but none criticized city management, LBPD or Mayor Robert Garcia (the latter volunteering that he'd spoke personally with Governor Newsom to underscore the City's request for National Guard assistance roughly three hours after looting began.) City management and Mayor Garcia said (as they have previously) that the City first had to exhaust a request for "mutual aid" previously sought from other area police agencies.
Neither Mayor Garcia nor any Council incumbents voiced any self-criticism of their budget decisions that had left Long Beach (L.A. County's second largest city) with a significantly thinner per capita police level than Los Angeles (which faced looting 24 hours earlier.)
Long Beach's Mayor/City Council currently budgets roughly 1.6 officers per thousand residents. By comparison, L.A.'s Mayor/Council budget roughly 2.5 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.
LB's per capita budgeted citywide deployable police level (for LA County's second largestcity) is currently roughly equivalent per capita to what Los Angeles would have if it cut funding for roughly a third of LAPD officers.
No Councilmembers agendized any item dealing directly with the City's response to the looting and violence occurred after a large peaceful May 31 march protesting the Minneapolis PD-involved death of George Floyd. The colloquy with Chief Luna followed over an hour of Council statements in support of an agenda item brought by Councilmember Rex Richardson (joined by Councilmembers Pearce, Austin and Andrews) that proposed a "reconciliation framework" to address what it said is a history of systemic racism nationally and locally that it said continues to the present and is reflected in inequitable actions by the City.
The Richardson agenda item ended with a 9-0 Council vote directing city management to address the equity and racial issues on a priority basis as a public health level priority, including a potential November ballot measure (content to be discussed).
In their June 9 discussion, no Councilmembers publicly mentioned defunding (reducing funding for) LBPD although the Richardson agenda item contained verbiage supporting this as a budget matter (LBREPORT.com coverage here). Councilman Richardson has acknowledged he supports defunding police in a June 7 webcast (LBREPORT.com coverage here..
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