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LBPD Chief Luna Blames Pandemic, Not Thin Police Levels, For Increased Shootings; He Sends Mayor/Council Memo That May Or May Not Come To Public Council Policy Discussion

It Doesn't Mention Word "Gangs," Or Acknowledge Recent Mayor/Council Police Defunding; Or Prior Mayor/Council Actions That Erased 20% Of City's Police Level Incl. Field Anti-Gang Unit Not Restored By Current Council



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(March 21, 2021, 3:10 p.m.) -- Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna blames the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, not thin police levels resulting from Mayor/Council actions from 2009-2015 and a Sept. 2020 Council defunding for a recent increase in shootings.

Chief Luna (a senior city management official) takes this position in a March 17 memo requested by Council voted action on February 2. The Chiefís position may or may not come to public Council discussion (which depends on subsequent agendizing action by the Mayor, a Councilmember(s) or city management) [A former Council under former Mayor OíNeill removed the public's right to agendize Council items in the mid-1990s.]

On Feb. 2, 2021, prompted by increased shootings, Long Beach Councilmembers voted to seek a report from Chief Luna "within 30 days on violent and quality-of-life crime in Long Beach with an overview of incidents and trends, an outline of current efforts and opportunities to address violence in highly-impacted neighborhoods, and a plan of action to meet the need for safety in all of our communities.")

LB's Police Chief directs LBPD actions but doesn't set city policy or LBPD's police level; a City Council majority does. The resulting memo doesn't mention the word "gangs." Or acknowledge policy actions by prior Mayors/Councils that erased roughly 20% of the City's police level, including LBPD's former field anti-gang unit. Or mention the Sept. 2020 Council vote (9-0) that defunded nearly 50 more officers.

The Chief's memo, titled "Strategies for Addressing Violent Crime" (directed to City Manager Tom Modica for the Mayor/City Council) also doesn't mention LBPD's practice (without Council objection) of failing to publicly list shootings in LB's official crime statistics (which LAPD does.) Or the City's failure (without Council objection) to provide the crime stats that list serious (Part 1) crimes against persons and property by Council districts (allowing quick comparison of conditions in various Council districts,) And doesn't acknowledge the impacts of prior and current Mayor/Council actions that have erased over 200 officers that LB taxpayers had but no longer have.

Chief Luna's memo states in pertinent part:

[Scroll down for further.] .




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Currently total citywide violent crime is up 32 percent through January 31,2021. We believe the possible cause for these crime increases are related to the serious impacts on the criminal justice system and our community resulting from the COVID pandemic. Prisons and jails have released large numbers of inmates to reduce the risk of exposure; more repeat offenders are being released on bail; trials and other court proceedings have experienced significant delays; school closures and lack of programming has negatively impacted youth engagement; and, with a record number of gun sales in 2020, there are more guns on the street. The pandemic has also created an inability for the Police Department (Department) to engage our community in person, which has negatively impacted our community policing efforts.
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Regarding recent shootings, the memo states:

In response to the recent shootings, the Department has also implemented an additional strategy to be incorporated into our long -term violence prevention efforts. In February 2021, we reassigned employees away from their primary assignments to reate a Coordinated Response Team (CRT). This temporary team is comprised of detectives, patrol officers, a divisional crime analyst, a public information officer, and a forensic science specialist. The CRT meets daily to discuss strategies for impacting violent crime with a focus on gun violence, prohibited possessors, "ghost guns," and the identification of drivers that are contributing to the increase in violent crime. The CRT is also responsible for assisting division commanders in conducting community engagement and neighborhood awareness related to our public safety efforts. The team has experienced success in arresting violent offenders prohibited from possessing firearms, and the recovery of weapons found in their possession. This strategy includes working with our federal law enforcement partners including the FBI, the ATF, and the U.S. Marshals. From January 1, 2021 to February 19, 2021, the city had 85 shootings citywide. Since implementing the CRT, we have seen an 81 percent decrease in firearm assaults. The proactive efforts of the CRT team have led to the arrest of 9 prohibited firearm possessors and the recovery of 13 firearms, 2 of which were ghost guns.

In addition to responding to the increase in shootings citywide, we are focusing resources in the Washington Middle School neighborhood. In response to an increase in shootings in the first month of this year in that area, we implemented a Neighborhood Walks Pilot Program. This program, which is supported through NSS funding, allows officers assigned to specific beats to walk those beats allowing them to interact with people who are living and working in the area while additional officers answer calls for service. Since the programís implementation, there have been no reported shooting incidents in the area.

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Long Beach City Councilmembers provide taxpayers with a significantly thinner police level than provided by City Councils in Los Angeles, Signal Hill and Santa Monica. See chart here.

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As reported earlier today (Sun Mar. 21), Long Beach has had five shootings in less than 24 hours between Saturday afternoon March 20 and 10 a.m.. Sunday March 21. Our continuing tally (checked daily with LBPD) indicates the City has had over a dozen shootings (person hit + casings found no person hit plus two homicides) since March 1. They have disproportionately impacted mainly working class and historically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

LBREPORT.com has editorially deplored the de facto geographically segregated crime conditions as a chronic inequity, a "tale of two cities."


Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.


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