(March 21, 2002) -- LBReport.com has learned that while parents and children were attending last night's "open house" at ELB's Millikan High School, a car theft was taking place near the school's front entrance.
Police tell LBReport.com that a 1997 Chevy Cavalier was stolen from the area of Vuelta Grande and Snowden. (Millikan's athletic field faces Palo Verde Ave. south of Spring St.) The victim indicated the vehicle was last seen at 6:00 p.m. and was reported stolen at 8:31 p.m., police said.
Incumbent 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell once taught at Millikan High.
The Millikan High car theft occurred one day after central area LB Councilwoman Laura Richardson-Batts said during a City Council meeting discussing police staffing she was "alarmed" LBPD's East Division (which handles crimes for a broad area east of Cherry Ave.) had more officers than LB's other police divisions.
LBPD crime data (posted on LBReport.com) show the 5th Council district had 377 car thefts, averaging more than one a day, in 2001. (To view LBReport.com's detailed coverage, click Detailed LBPD 2001 Crime Data.)
Councilwoman Kell did not respond directly to Richardson-Batts' assertion, but Kell has recently said she now favors increasing LB's police levels. However, at the March 19 Council meeting, Kell did not pursue budgeted police increases after City Manager Henry Taboada advised deferring police increases, if any, to the forthcoming "budget process" (May-Sept. 2002). That would effectively defer any meaningful police increases into the next fiscal year (Oct 2002 to Sept. 2003).
5th district Council candidate John Donaldson noted the Council is ultimately responsible for not delivering officers indicated in City Hall's Police Dept. Strategic Plan preliminary staffing strategy, which indicates 1,023 officers...by two years ago.
"Jackie Kell has voted with city management, not with the public, on police," Mr. Donaldson said.
Although LBPD decides where to deploy officers, the City Council decides how many officers there are to deploy when the Council adopts City Hall's budget, which determines how many officers can be hired. Signal Hill budgets over 3.0 sworn officers per thousand residents and L.A. budgets closer to 2.5. In Sept. 2001 (after Sept. 11) LB's City Council budgeted roughly 1.93-1.98 officers per thousand residents (depending on whether one uses the 2000 federal census or CA's 2001 population update which includes a projected undercount).
At the March 19 City Council meeting, LB City Auditor Gary Burroughs delivered a report indicating that although the Council budgeted 913.25 officers, LB actually had (as of Feb. 20) only 770 working sworn officers on force. The difference is attributable to disabled, non-career and disabled officers on payroll.
Auditor Burroughs and City Manager Taboada have recently indicated they now plan to "revise" City Hall's Police Strategic Plan.
As reported by LBReport.com, LB total reported crimes increased in every Council district in 2001 over 2000 levels.