|(May 1, 2021, 2:05 p.m.) -- LBPD's test of "walking cops" -- which from Feb. 27 through April 30 sent eight officers to walk and interact with residents and businesses from the LA River to Long Beach Blvd. between Anaheim and PCH, ended today (May 1.) The program was a response to shootings that spiked in areas from Central LB to NLB after the Council voted (9-0) to defund 48 officers in FY 21 on top of 180+ officers defunded by prior Councils and not restored.
During the six week test, the "walking cop" area had two shootings of which we're aware: On March 20 in the area of PCH/LB Blvd (border CD 1/CD 6), a 19 year old man said a black sedan approached him and a suspect fired two shots which missed hitting him. On April 6, in the 1700 block of Chestnut (CD 1/Willmore City just south of PCH), multiple victims (including adults and juveniles) said they were walking on the sidewalk when they were approached by a vehicle and an unknown male suspect shot at them from within the vehicle, then fled the scene.
Nearby areas, some within a block of two outside the "walking cop" area, had additional shootings. Shootings also occurred in areas spanning ELB (CD 4/Supernaw between Traffic Circle and Redondo) to southern NLB (CD 8/Austin.)
LBPD has indicated it will evaluate the results of the "walking cop" program and may resume it, move it or expand it. Thus far, no City Council incumbent has agendized an item to restore 48 officers they voted in Sept. 2020 to defund on top of 180+ officers previously defunded and not restored (including field anti-gang unit.)
On Feb 2, 2021, with shootings spiking, Councilmembers voted to seek answers and a strategy from LBPD. On March 17, LBPD sent Councilmembers a memo that didn't mention the word "gangs" or recent or past Council actions that thinned LBPD levels. Instead, it blamed the pandemic and stated in part:
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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On April 20, Chief Luna offered the Council an agendized verbal version of his March 17 memo's recommendations accompanied by Power Point slides. It said LBPD has implemented a "Community Response Team" (officers pulled from other assignments, including a Lieutenant, two Sergeants, 8 directed enforcement officers, 5 gang detectives) and a roughly six week test in the LA River-LB Blvd/Anaheim-PCH area of the "walking cop" program.
The Council voted 9-0 to approve LBPD's recommendations. No Council incumbent signaled his or her support for restoring defunded officers for taxpayers.
The City of Long Beach currently provides LB taxpayers with a budgeted sworn police level for routine citywide deployment of roughly 1.5 officers per thousand residents (now down from the roughly 1.6 per thousand shown on the chart below.) By comparison, L.A and Santa Monica budget roughly 2.49 officers per thousand residents (not including LA Airport/Port police.) Signal Hill, surrounded by Long Beach, budgets roughly 3.15 sworn officers per thousand residents for its taxpayers.
In July 2020, LA's City Council adopted a FY202-21 budget that reduced funding for LAPD that will produce a budgeted level by summer 2021 of roughly 2.43 officers/thousand.]
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