Did Councilperson Jeannine Pearce get VIP Treatment from the LBPD?

Stephen Downing
Devin Cotter and Jeannine Pearce

On June 6 confidential sources within and outside the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) informed the Beachcomber that 2nd District Councilperson Jeannine Pearce was the subject of a domestic violence and driving under the influence (DUI) investigation by police officers called to the scene of two separate incidents.

In the handling of the incidents the sources reported that the officers were improperly directed to provide special handling (VIP treatment) for the councilperson and her male companion related to alleged crimes for which both were improperly released from police custody at the direction of LBPD brass. 

Upon receipt of this information inquiry was made of both Councilperson Pearce and the LBPD media relations desk to validate and/or confirm the varied reports that:

  • Pearce was given VIP treatment at the direction of LBPD management in the DUI investigation by allowing her an expanded time frame as well as permitting water intake to mitigate blood alcohol levels prior to taking a breathalyzer test
  • Pearce battered her male companion causing visible injury and police officers were instructed not to take a crime report at the first scene
  • Police officers were instructed to drive Pearce home
  • Police officers were instructed to drive her male companion home in spite of the fact that the officers had discovered the male companion was wanted on a $50,000 arrest warrant and
  • The second scene later that same morning the male companion turned up at Pearce’s home, caused a disturbance which resulted in the police being called again, that the male companion again insisted that an assault report be made and that he was not arrested a second time on the $50,000 warrant.

At the time of this publication Councilperson Pearce has not responded to written requests for comment. On June 6, at 10:47 p.m. the LBPD media relation’s desk responded to the Beachcomber inquiry via email with the following message:

“On Saturday, June 3, 2017, at approximately 2:40 a.m., the California Highway Patrol (CHP) called Long Beach Police and requested assistance investigating a possible domestic violence and driving under the influence incident.  CHP indicated they had discovered a vehicle parked facing southbound in the painted center median, north of the Golden Shore exit, on the 710 Freeway. A female driver and male passenger were being detained at the location by CHP.

When Long Beach Police arrived at the location, CHP officers indicated that they were unsure if a crime had occurred and asked for LBPD to investigate further.  LBPD did not find sufficient cause for arrest related to a domestic violence incident or driving under the influence.  The female driver admitted driving the vehicle, however she successfully completed a field sobriety test.  The female driver was taken home by a friend.  The male passenger was transported home by LBPD officers. The female driver is identified as Jeannine Pearce, 36 years old and a resident of Long Beach.

At approximately 6 a.m., the female driver was returning home with her vehicle when she was confronted by the male passenger involved in the earlier dispute. She immediately drove away and called police. Officers responded to the 2200 block of Florida Avenue and located the subject.  The male subject was arrested for public intoxication and an active $50,000 warrant for driving under the influence.  The male subject is identified as Devin Cotter, 36 years old and a resident of Long Beach.

The investigation remains ongoing.”

Follow up investigation since receiving the LBPD media relations response indicates that Devin Cotter is a former campaign manager and legislative deputy for Mayor Robert Garcia, worked on Pearce’s campaign for city council and subsequently served for eight months as Pearce’s chief of staff following her election until his resignation in February 2017.

The Beachcomber has filed a public records request for all documents related to the two incidents and will provide on-line reports as the investigation into the alleged improper special handling (VIP) treatment is updated. 

[Story update 6/8/17, 6 a.m.]

Following publication of the above article the Beachcomber submitted a list of 20 pressing questions to the Long Beach Police Department regarding the “Special VIP Handling” of Councilperson Pearce and her former Chief of Staff Devin Cotter.  Late last evening LBPD Chief Robert Luna responded to that submission without answering any of the questions posed:

“The Police Department recognizes that there are many questions regarding this matter.  It is the Department’s responsibility to document circumstances in order to conduct a thorough investigation to determine if a crime or crimes have been committed. Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, additional details of the case and related circumstances are not being released at this time. 

We are reviewing the circumstances surrounding this incident to ensure the actions taken in the field were consistent with our policies and procedures.  We do not have a policy directing special “handling” of public officials.  However, the Police Department does have a notification guide included in its policy that requires appropriate notifications be made when an incident involves the arrest or serious criminal conduct involving a city employee or VIP. 

The men and women of the Long Beach Police Department respect the rights of all individuals and work hard to maintain the public trust that we have established. “

Finding the chief’s response a non-response and one that rings hollow when it comes maintaining the public trust, the Beachcomber responded and  – among many other concerns – posed the following questions to the chief:

  • In that the LBPD has already announced that there was no finding of DUI or domestic violence at the scene, what “investigation is continuing” and what is the crime that is being investigated?
  • If the LBPD could not find sufficient cause at the scene, where Cotter complained of being attacked by Pearce and had visible injuries to prove it - and an arrest was not made - to what purpose and to what end does the so-called "continuing investigation” serve?  

The Beachcomber also uncovered additional information about the $50,000 DUI warrant that was not served upon Ms. Pearce’s former chief of staff when the LBPD brass instead ordered their police officers to drive Cotter home from the scene of the first incident. 

As a result of that discovery we asked the executive director of the Community Police Complaint Commission (CPCC) to add the following element of apparent corruption to the investigation the Beachcomber had earlier asked the CPCC to initiate into this matter.

The following is the content of that request:

“Public records indicate that the $50,000 DUI warrant issued by the Long Beach court for the arrest of Devin Thomas Cotter was issued in March 2016.  Between March 2016 and February 2017, records at Transparent California indicate that Cotter was employed by the City of Long Beach, assigned to the mayor’s office and later to the chief of staff position with Ms. Pearce.  

This begs the question - in addition to queries surrounding why Cotter was not arrested at the Hwy 710 scene for the outstanding warrant - why was the warrant not served by the LBPD when it was first issued in March 2016?  

Cotter worked for the city for 11 months while a $50,000 warrant was in file for his arrest.  This too smacks of  “special handling” of a city employee assigned to political offices.  

The public is entitled to an explanation why this was allowed to occur - and why the warrant was not served until such time that it aided the purposes of another case of “special VIP handling.” Please add this apparent systemic misconduct to the CPCC investigation.”

Updates to this story will follow as additional information is developed.




At first glance, I'm sure most people we'll see this as scandalous. I read this and recalled my own experience in a similar incident a several years ago. I was doubtlessly breaking the law; speeding (80+ in a 40 mph zone. I was pulled over, rightfully. I had been in a fight with a significant other, I was crying, had a drink or two...the usual dumb stuff people do. The officer had every reason to arrest me on the spot. However, he scolded me and told me to go home and go to bed. This wasn't VIP treatment, and I'm not a council person or anyone important. Just a regular citizen in an unfortunate situation. We rely on police officers to make these judgment calls. Any one of us would be grateful to find ourselves in a situation where we were met with reason and understanding. With humanity. To protect and serve. We want police officers to follow the spirit of law when it comes to us, and the letter of the law when it comes to everyone else. I'm surprised this is even a story. It's not VIP treatment , she was fortunate to be pulled over by a human and not a Robocop. We should all take a step back and look at the reality of law enforcement in our country. Give it a break, folks.

While good judgment should be used, endangering others with your reckless driving should have earned you a ticket.
As for Pearce, this PD is known for their special VIP $$ treatment and targeted persecution of those whom they disapprove or dislike. It is time for these corrupt practices to end.

So the LBPD drove home at least one of them...and the other got a ride...SO..the car was towed??? Why was the car towed if the driver was sober....then the car ends up at HER house at 6 am...and isn't she married??? so how does this then a "domestic" incident if it is not with her husband??? So much of this does NOT meet the "smell" test...

There is no excuse for the author of the article being so mistaken on so many fronts since he purports to have been a real police officer in some century past. But since you have seen fit to interject yourself into the comments, and discourse is what makes things fun and interesting, perhaps you can tell me where it ever said in the article that her car was towed? Those that have read the skewed and biased comedy of S. Downing have come to expect just that. But when others jump on the band wagon and make up facts to make others look bad it is even worse. Everyone can see he has a personal agenda, I am just not sure of what yours might be.

She should be removed from office immediately and the LBPD needs to release ALL of the information they collected during this incident including correspondence with CHP and between officers on location, staff sergeant(s) on duty at the time and any other directives from commanding officers. It is the public's trust in our department of public safety's ability to fairly police without prejudice at stake here.

Very typical. This is and will be a cover up. No investigation. Thank you Steve Downing for your coverage. Now I look forward to Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Grunion Gazette's top quality investigative reporting. However I suspect it will Be ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT.

Jeannine Pearce is the only local politician that consistently has the interests of Long Beach RESIDENTS in mind when she makes decisions. If anyone would get VIP treatment from the police it would certainly not be her. Moreover, whatever happens in her personal life is absolutely none of our business. This story uses very few actual facts to unfairly make some pretty awful allegations. Lets focus on the shady happenings in local government that ACTUALLY affect us as residents.

HAHAHA! Seriously? She has the UNION's best interest in mind. Their ROI dictates it. I have never laughed so hard. As for your comment about her personal life, I'll give you that. However, how she conducts herself in public and leads by example should be the litmus test for public officials conducting themselves in a manner they campaigned themselves to be. Perhaps karma is best served when the bucket of rocks is empty on the porch of the glass house she resides in.

Here, here! Yes, she does not have any interest but her own in mind and doing whatever, whoever, pays her best! She's despicable!

Pearce came out of the big political machine into long beach as a career politician.


These politicians are held to a higher standard. She hasn't done anything that she has promised. In fact she hasn't responded to any of my 12 emails about my neighborhood until this scandal started and has hired 3 new staff that are just auto responding to her emails. She doesn't even listen to constituents. Just try to email or call her she doesn't respond, only her paid staffers do. She has a staff of 15 paid by you and by political machines

Mr. Downing is not a reporter, but a fantasy writer. This article shows his bias against the LBPD. Why is the article titled "Did Councilperson Jeannine Pearce get VIP Treatment from the LBPD?" and not "Did Councilperson Jeannine Pearce get VIP Treatment from the CHP?" The CHP was the first contact; if Pearce was DUI why did the CHP not arrest her? Is the CHP guilty of VIP treatment and complicit in a cover-up? Why would they, the law enforcement agency for the state, risk covering anything up for a local police department? CHP is known for not giving a break to anyone, not even a fellow law enforcement officer, why would they give a break to Pearce. If the CHP didn't have enough to arrest Pearce how would the LBPD?

Careful, Pearce has a HUGE career ahead of her. Long Beach was supposed to be a stepping stone toward Sacramento.

She will not be stopped. You locals can't stop a political machine!

I’d like to know who greased this with the LA DA, LB city prosecutors etc. Calif law dictates that alleged domestic violence perpetrators be arrested. If Jeannine Pierces BAC was .06 two hours twenty minutes after the bars closed what do you surmise it to have been at the time of the stop? The idea that the device was out of calibration stinks since for the rest of us citizens we would need an expensive attorney and forensic expert to counter the charges in court. The idea that her car was towed would be presumption made since she was escorted from the scene. Yet it would seem that she was allowed to retrieve the vehicle on her own as stated. The earlier comment berating the literacy of the yet earlier comment which broached the topic of towing missed the point. The CHP by mandate automatically removes (tows) stranded vehicles from the freeway. Maybe you’re new to our fair state and haven’t noticed that vehicles do not litter the shoulders of our freeways. Guess why given the astronomical number of vehicles. Why would the CHP turn over a DUI investigation to LBPD? Why an “ongoing investigation” if the mandated arrestable offenses were not determined in the time frame of the event. Was a littering citation issued given the debri that was claimed to be ejected from the vehicle during the spat. My guess is she immediately claimed her status and demanded LBPD to intercede with CHP. Jeannine Pierce’s anti-recall page is the most disengenuous piece of text I’ve had the displeasure to read recently. As if this is an assault on women. One thing for certain she is every bit the weasel her male counterparts have traditionally demonstrated.

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