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Long Beach Had But No Longer Has An LBPD Field Anti-Gang Unit. How'd That Happen?


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Large portions of the text below were reported by LBREPORT.com in October 2014. We've updated our report below with subsequent developments.
(May 18, 2019, 5:45 p.m.) -- The Long Beach Police Department previously had but no longer has a field anti-gang unit. It consisted of 20 officers + 2 sergeants specifically deployed in gang-impacted neighborhoods, collecting intelligence, gathering information, working contacts.

LBPD does continue to have a gang unit, which responds to shootings, handles investigations, follow-ups, arrests, court testimony and more. In addition, each of LBPD's main geographic divisions (North, South, East, West) has a Directed Enforcement Team (DET) that each division's Commander can assign to specific tasks as needed (including anti-gang tasks.) However the bottom line is LBPD no longer has a field anti-gang unit, with experienced anti-gang officers consistently deployed at street level, interacting with and learning the latest from residents and businesses.

And despite June 2016 LB voter approval of the City Hall-written Measure A General Fund ("blank check") sales increase (that now brings City Hall over $50+ million annually), LB taxpayers no longer have 186 citywide deployable officers that they had prior to Measure A.

So...how'd LBPD's field anti-gang unit disappear?

[Scroll down for further.]




Background: Mayor Bob Foster sought election in June 2006 with a pledge to put 100 more police on the street within his first four years in office . His endorsers included City Hall's three major public employee unions representing police officers (LBPOA), firefighters (LBFFA) and non-public safety workers (IAM.) Mayor Foster made good on his pledge in his first two years in office, bringing LBPD to its highest staff level ever: for FY08: 961 budgeted citywide deployable positions (includes 17 police academy recruits.) (That year's budget also included 59 additional officers not citywide deployable, contracted to and paid for by the Port/Airport/LBUSD/LBCC/LBTransit/L.A. County-Carmelitos).

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At the same time, Foster supported, and the Council approved, raises for the three major public employee unions that had endorsed him. In 2007, Foster supported reopening LBPOA's contract to provide raises, portrayed as a way to retain senior officers. In 2008, Foster supported and Council majorities approved new contracts with raises for IAM (7-2, Gabelich and DeLong dissenting) and LBFFA (8-1, Gabelich dissenting.) These three contracts all failed to include pension reforms that grassroots taxpayer advocates had sought for years.

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When the economic recession began in fall 2008, the failure to include those pension reforms made the three major contracts financially unsustainable. Foster belatedly called for re-opening the contracts to include pension reforms for the future and dealt with the present by recommending "proportional budget reductions" that as a practical matter fell hardest on LBPD (which accounts for the largest proportion of General Fund spending.)

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Starting in FY 09 (with Garcia elected as a Councilman in March 2009) and heading into FY10, Mayor Foster recommended and the Council approved budget reductions that ultimately erased 208 citywide deployable police officers, over 20% of the 961 citywide budgeted officers LB taxpayers previously had. By August 2012, annual budget reductions had erased over 150 budgeted police positions when Foster recommended his FY13 budget (chronology begins below.)


  • Aug. 2012: Mayor Bob Foster recommends a city management proposed FY13 budget that would entirely eliminate LBPD's field anti-gang comprised of 20 officers + 2 sergeants.

  • Aug. 2012: The Council's Public Safety Committee, chaired by Vice Mayor Robert Garcia (chosen by Mayor Foster) holds no meetings to address the public safety impacts (police or fire) of Mayor Foster's recommended FY13 budget.

  • Aug. 2012: The Council's Budget Oversight Committee (chair DeLong) recommends (on motion by DeLong and Lowenthal) a roughly $1 million increase to the PD budget sum above the sum recommended by Mayor Foster.

  • Sept. 2012: Councilman Patrick O'Donnell makes a Council floor motion, approved without dissent, to budget another roughly $1 million more beyond what the Budget Oversight Committee recommended, to give the Chief discretion to fund up to half of the former anti-gang field unit (10 officers plus one sergeant) for one year using "one time" money.

  • Aug. 2013: Mayor Foster recommends a FY14 budget that included no sums to replace the expiring "one time funds" approved by the Council in Sept. 2012 that kept up to half of the field anti-gang unit afloat.

  • Aug. 2013: The Council's Budget Oversight Committee learns through chair DeLong's questioning that LBPD's field anti-gang unit has shrunk to only roughly 7 sworn officers through exits/attrition. Meanwhile, the Council's Public Safety Committee, chaired by Vice Mayor Garcia (chosen by Foster) holds no meetings to address the public safety impacts of Foster's recommended FY14 budget.

  • September 2013: Some taxpayers take the time and effort to speak at Council budget hearings urging restoration of LBPD's field anti-gang unit. They include veteran NLB community advocate Laurie Angel. To hear Ms. Angel's words, click here. No LB business or neighborhood group publicly calls for restoring the field anti-gang unit. The Council enacts a FY14 budget without structural budgeted funding to restore LBPD's anti-gang field unit. The unit is basically gone, except for a skeleton crew.

  • Feb. 2014: Mayor Foster and the LB Police Officers union endorse Vice Mayor Garcia for Mayor.

  • July 2014: Days before leaving office, exiting Mayor Foster recommends a FY15 with no funding for a field anti-gang unit.

  • July 2014: Garcia takes office as MAyor along with a new Council majority (Gonzalez, Price, Mungo, Uranga an Austin.)

    July 15, 2014 "Inaugural" @ Terrace Theater

  • July 2014: Mayor Garcia recommends a FY15 budget with no funding for a field anti-gang unit.

  • September 2/9, 2014: The City Council votes 9-0 to approve a FY15 budget that eliminates LBPD's field anti-gang unit. Voting "yes" were Councilmembers Gonzalez, Lowenthal, Price, O'Donnell, Mungo, Andrews, Uranga, Austin and Richardson.

What's happened since then?

  • February-March 2016: At the urging of Mayor Garcia, the City Council votes 9-0 to put a General Fund ("blank check") sales tax increase on the June 2016 ballot, It becomes "Measure A." .

  • June 2016, Following a six-figure campaign funded in large part by LB's police and firefighter unions and run by Garcia, LB voters approve the Measure A ("blank check") sales tax increase.

  • July 2016: Mayor Garcia proposes a FY17 budget that offers to restore 8 of the 208 erased officers.

  • August 2016: LBREPORT.com asks Councilwoman Gonzalez -- whose 1st Council district's residents endure disproportionate numbers of shootings, most of which are gang related -- if she supports restoring more than the 8 officers recommended by Garcia. Councilwoman Gonzalez responds by trying to cover our camera lens.


    Screen save from LBREPORT.com video following 1st Council district FY17 Community Budget meeting, Aug. 25, 2016

  • Sept. 2016: The Council votes 9-0 to approve a FY17 budget that restores 8 of the 208 erased officers.

  • Nov. 2016: Councilman Richardson agendizes and the Council approves an item asking City Mgm't to evaluate new revenue from June/Nov. voter approved tax hikes to "make necessary preparations to restore Rescue 12" (NLB based paramedic unit.)

  • Feb. 2017: Council votes to restore Rescue 12 and restore 9 additional police officers in FY17. This brings the total number of officers restored since Measure A to 17.

  • August 2018: Mayor Garcia recommends FY19 budget that restores 6 additional citywide deployable officers (a bicycle patrol) while city management proposes shifting one citywide deployable officer to an Airport-contracted position (for a net increase of 5 citywide deployable budgeted officers.).

  • Sept. 2018: The Council approves the Garcia-recommended FY19 budget, producing a net increase of 5 additional citywide deployable budgeted officers on top of the 17 restored in FY17. The net result restores a total of 22 citywide deployable officers out of 208 erased.

The bottom line for taxpayers: LB doesn't have 186 citywide deployable budgeted officers that it previously had and those include LBPD's former field anti-gang unit.

Long Beach currently provides its taxpayers with a budgeted sworn police level for routine citywide deployment of 1.59 officers per thousand residents. (Ratio reflects citywide deployable officers, doesn't include officers limited to and paid by Port/Airport/LBCC/LBUSC/LBTransit/Metro; if contracted officers are included, ratio would still be only 1.79 officers per thousand.) By comparison, Los Angeles provies its taxpayers with 2.47 per thousand, and Signal Hill delivers 3.15 sworn officers per thousand residents for its taxpayers.


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