News / In Detail / Perspective

Police Chief To Council In Mid-November: Sum Budgeted For LBPD Overtime Expected To Be Roughly $1+ Million Short Of What's Needed (Even After Erasing ShotSpotter)


(Nov. 30, 2012) -- In response to questioning by Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, LB Police Chief Jim McDonnell acknowledged during the Nov. 13 Council meeting that the City Council's Sept. 4, 2012 budget vote leaves LBPD short by at least $1 million needed for FY13 overtime (annual costs for incidents out of normal scheduling)...even after erasing previous Council funding for gunfire location technology.

During Nov. 13 discussion of an item agendized by Councilman Patrick O'Donnell, joined by Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, to de-fund ShotSpotter gunfire location technology to allocate its $350,000 to PD overtime, Chief McDonnell said in looking at estimates based on last year's data, LBPD is "anywhere between $1.5 and $1.75 million below where we would likely need to be based on the needs that we need to address."

Asked by Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske if these figures are with the $350,000 or in addition to it, the Chief said his numbers were with the $350,000. When Schipske asked if LBPD needs $800,000 more, the Chief replied that this was "ballpark."

The salient Council colloquy on November 13 was as follows:

Councilwoman Schipske: Can you tell us Chief how much more you're going to be over for overtime? Because this is [allocating $350,000 by erasing ShotSpotter] one drop in the bucket apparently and I know this was brought up in Council in previous meetings as to whether or not the overtime budgeted was sufficient, and apparently we were told it was. And if we're now over budget, and we've just started the fiscal year, do we have any estimate of how much more you're going to need?

Chief McDonnell: We do. In looking at our estimates based on last year's data, we're anywhere between $1.5 and $1.75 million below where we would likely need to be based on the needs that we need to address.

Councilwoman Schipske: Is this considering this [$350,000] or is that in addition?

Chief McDonnell: That would be with the 350 [$350,000 from ShotSpotter]

Councilwoman Schipske: So you need $800,000 more?

Chief McDonnell: Ballpark...

[Ed. note: $350,000 + $800,000 would be $1.135 million, which is short of the $1.5-$1.75 million the Chief initially indicated.]

When Councilwoman Schipske concluded her remarks, Vice Mayor Garcia [presiding in the absence of Mayor Foster] said "as one small point of clarification" that "I believe that in the last budget cycle, I think the Chief did mention that we would be about $1.5 million short approximately in overtime, so I know that that was mentioned to the Council." has been unable to substantiate any instance in which Chief McDonnell said anything at the Sept. 4 Council meeting when the Council added a little over $2 million to LBPD's budget (motion by O'Donnell) to fund PD overtime, gang officers and police service specialists sibject to the Chief's discretion. Chief McDonnell wasn't present at that meeting.

But there was discussion of PD overtime -- an issue raised by Vice Mayor Garcia himself -- at the Sept. 4 Council meeting and in August. Garcia -- who chairs the Council's Public Safety Committee -- expressed concern in August Council discussion that the Mayor/Manager budget didn't fund sufficient LBPD overtime and asked the Council's Budget Oversight Committee (chaired by DeLong) to tackle the issue. However Vice Mayor Garcia convened no hearings of his Public Safety Committee to address the issue or other public safety impacts of the Mayor/Manager proposed FY13 Police or Fire budgets.

When the September 4 Council meeting arrived, the Council's Budget Oversight Committee (DeLong, O'Donnell, Lowenthal) proposed a sum roughly $1.5 million less than LBPD used for overtime alone for the past two budget years. Councilman O'Donnell then made a floor motion to increase LBPD's budget by $1 million, giving the Chief [LBPD management] discretion on whether to allocate this sum for overtime, to avert some cuts to LBPD's gang unit and fund Police Services Specialists (civilian liaisons to the community).

But that sum was still short of what had been previously estimated as needed to fully fund all the items in their entirety.

Vice Mayor Garcia spotted this at the time and raised it on the Council floor on Sept. 4. In audio below, Garcia indicates he assumes that of the total $2.3 million proposed to be added (via O'Donnell's motion) for overtime and the gang unit, $2 million will likely go to overtime. [The $2 million reflects the cost indicated in a memo to the Council from Financial Mgm't Dir. John Gross.]

Councilman O'Donnell said Vice Mayor Garcia's statement "wasn't true," contending it isn't known exactly how much will be used for overtime because of verbiage that leaves the $2.3 million to Chief's "discretion"...but O'Donnell didn't explain how the Chief could fund non-discretionary overtime and still avert cuts to LBPD's gang unit [which would cost $3.1 million to fully fund, per Financial Mgm't Dir. Gross' memo].

Councilman DeLong said the budget includes additional "salary savings" but didn't specify what items he was describing.

Mayor Foster argued that the Chief had said he would remain "within his budget" [which the Mayor presented on Aug. 1 with only roughly $7 million in overtime] but didn't mention that this included cutting LBPD's gang unit.

Vice Mayor Garcia asked Councilman DeLong if the Budget Oversight Committee had discussed this at its meeting earlier in the day. Councilman DeLong replied "over a period of time." Vice Mayor Garcia sounded less than fully persuaded but acquiesced...and the Council's 8-0 vote (approving the budget changes) followed.

To hear the O'Donnell/DeLong/Mayoral exchange with Vice Mayor Garcia, click here.

Following Chief McDonnell's statements in response to Councilwoman Schipske and Vice Mayor Garcia's statement, Councilman O'Donnell said "we are going to have a discussion about that probably midyear or sooner, about the overtime issue because I think it was pretty clear that there was going to be a struggle there to meet their budget by the end of the year, so we will have that conversation..."


The September 2012 Council budget vote (motion by O'Donnell) added $1 million to the sum proposed by the Council's Budget Oversight Committee, which proposed to add a little over $1 million to the sum recommended in the Mayor/Manager proposed budget. The floor motion by O'Donnell gave the Police Chief [LBPD administration/management] discretion on how to allocate the additional either LBPD's anti-gang officers [which the Mayor/Manager budget reductions would have eliminated] or to overtime or to police service specialists (civilians who interface with the community).

Vice Mayor Robert Garcia who chairs the Council's Public Safety Committee, had expressed concern in August that the Mayor/Manager overtime sum seemed insufficient. Vice Mayor Garcia asked the Council's Budget Oversight Committee (chair DeLong) to tackle the issue...while Garcia himself convened no hearings of his own Public Safety Committee to address the impacts of the Mayor/Manager proposed FY13 Police Dept. or Fire Dept. budgets.

In the afternoon of September 4, 2012, the Council's Budget Oversight Committee met and proposed increasing the PD overtime sum to a little over $8 million. Multiple issues were on the table, including funding for parks and rec programs, LBPD's anti-gang program, the El Dorado Nature Center and other items. Committee chair DeLong read aloud (with no written material available) a list of proposed items which the Committee approved. A few hours later, a printed list materialized at the main evening Council meeting and multiple substitute motions flew...including O'Donnell's substitute motion.

Chief McDonnell wasn't present at the Sept. 4 budget discussions (Administration Bureau Chief Braden Phillips was present to field questions). Councilman James Johnson was in Washington, D.C. and participated via teleconference. Councilman Dee Andrews was absent (his office later telling that he was sick).

The Council didn't have to vote on the budget on Sept. 4; it could have done so at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 11 [and did delay action on the Harbor Dept. budget at the Port's request]. Three Councilmembers -- Schipske, Austin and Neal -- said they favored additional public safety funding...and Councilman Neal (backed by Councilman Austin) made a motion to hold Council action over to Sept. 11. it failed 3-5 (Yes: Neal, Austin and Schipske; No: Garcia, Lowenthal, DeLong, O'Donnell, Johnson; Andrews absent).

During Sept. 4 public testimony on the budget, a representative of the LB Police Officers Ass'n predicted that funds budgeted likely wouldn't be sufficient to cover LBPD overtime costs and thus might not be sufficient to maintain LBPD's anti-gang unit at its present level. His prediction has turned out to 100% correct.

As a result of the Sept. 4, 2012 Council vote, LBPD reduced its gang unit by half, leaving LB now with 11 gang officers (10 officers + 1 Sgt.), half of what Long Beach previously had. It also cut the number of Police Services Assistants significantly.

The Council budget votes on Sept. 4 were 8-0 to approve amendments (including the O'Donnell amendment) but 6-2 (Austin and Neal dissenting) to the incorporate amendments in the budget.

At the Nov. 13 Council meeting, Councilwoman Schipske asked Financial Management Director John Gross how much additional oil revenue Long Beach collected in FY12 [since the actual price of oil was higher than the city assumed in the FY12 budget]. Mr. Gross replied the figure wasn't available yet but was expected by late November.

Mayor Foster has opposed using one-time revenue to fund ongoing expenses...and has called the city's oil revenue one-time revenue since its price can fluctuate greatly. Some Councilmembers respond that although oil revenue can be volatile, it is a variable but continuing revenue stream that can be conservatively used.

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