LBPD Chief Luna To Retire In December
LBPD Chief Luna To Retire In December
Despite Shootings And Mayor/Council Failure To Restore LB's Thinned Officer Level, City Hall Release Quotes Luna As Thanking Mayor, Council, City Mgm't
|(Sept. 9, 2021, 5:55 a.m.) -- On Sept. 8, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna announced he will retire in December 2021. A City Hall release is visible here. Chief Luna's replacement will be chosen by City Manager Tom Modica.
Despite refusal by Mayor Garcia and the current Council to restore roughly 200 officers defunded by a previous Council (2009-2014) (including failure to fund LBPD's field anti-gang unit) and further defunded nearly 50 additional officers in FY 20 (continued in FY 21), a City Hall release quotes Chief Luna saying "I wish to thank my family, friends, Mayor Garcia, our City Council, former and current City Managers Pat West and Tom Modica, and our community for their support..."
During his tenure, Chief Luna declined to publicly urge LB's policy-setting City Council to restore the defunded officers. (Amid surging shootings, in July 2021 the Council approved a Mayor/Management titled "Safety Recovery Plan" that failed to restore officers in FY22 and the surging shootings have continued.)
Chief Luna operated in an environment in which no LB neighborhood groups or business community groups publicly called on the Council to restore officers. Nor has LB's police officer union whose members benefit from overtime resulting in part from LB's thinned officer level. LBPOA's PAC has helped elect/re-elect Councilmembers who have maintained LB's current thin officer level.
The Council action leaves LB with a thinner per capita officer level than City Councils in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Signal Hill provide for their taxpayers. Chart shows LB police level before Sept. 2020 defunding of 48 additional officers.
At the same time, Chief Luna was blamed for LBPD's failure for several hours to stop downtown area looting following a local demonstration protesting the Minneapolis PD-involved death (subsequently found by a jury to be murder) of George Floyd. LB city management ultimately requested "mutual aid" from surrounding cities to deal with looting that spread across Long Beach.
Chief Luna subsequently cited LBPD's implementation of greater diversity and "21st century policing." He didn't flinch at publicly criticizing consequences of AB 109 (Sacramento "realignment" released a number of state convicts it deemed non-violent), Prop 47 (reduced many felonies to misdemeanors) and Prop 57 (provided opportunities for non-violent felons to earn early release.) On shootings, he was especially critical of the proliferation of prohibited possessors possessing firearms.
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|However Chief Luna declined to pursue reforms such as listing shootings in LBPD's crime stats (currently camouflaged within "aggravated assaults.") He also didn't implement changes that would provide crime stats in digital form (instead of user-unfriedly pdf form.)
Amid all this, Chief Luna also faced a number of left/progressive LB groups that accused LBPD of fostering violence (one public speaker accused LBPD of being a "murderous" institution.) The groups urged the Council to reduce LBPD's budget by 25% and divert the spending to various community groups and programs they supported. (The Council declined to do in Sept. 21.)
Chief Luna was also dogged by a photo that surfaced in Dec. 2020 showing LBPD officers -- most not wearing facemaks -- assembled to hear remarks by the Chief. Some citizen groups filed a complaint against Luna with LB's "Citizen Police Complaint Commission" which has investigatory powers but with a decisional outcome controlled by city management.
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