16 Months Without an Officer Involved Shooting

By: 
Stephen Downing

On Jan. 1 of this year Senate Bill 1421 took effect. The legislation was intended to enhance transparency to police records related to officer involved shootings, use of force that results in death or great bodily injury, sexual assault by police or custodial officers involving a member of the public and police officer dishonesty.

The Beachcomber – as well as a coalition of media organizations – filed public record requests for the newly approved document release with the City of Long Beach within days following passage of the legislation.

The city initially joined with other municipalities, counties, state agencies and police unions to obstruct SB 1421, making the specious argument that the bill’s language did not require retroactive production of the designated records.

After multiple court decisions in favor of retroactivity were announced – none of which involved Long Beach or its police union – the city finally agreed that SB 1421 did require retroactive production and issued a press release saying that it would comply.

But months passed and no records were produced – until a token offering was made this past week.

In response to multiple requests for updates, the city ultimately informed the Beachcomber that it had released summary data related to officer involved shootings (OIS) to public radio station KPCC on July 5, because “One of the requestors from KPCC specifically requested an overview report of Officer Involved Shootings between 2014 – 2019.”

The Beachcomber asked the city for and received a copy of the summary documents provided to KPCC.

At that same time the city also provided an undated memo from City Manager Patrick West that outlined the city’s alleged difficulties in accommodating the requirements of SB 1421.

West wrote that 59 requests were made primarily from media outlets for part or all records available under SB 1421 and, because of the lack of funding, the city was using “a limited number of temporary personnel to process Public Records Act requests and SB 1421 requests.”

The city manager further stated, “The Police Department has identified over 900 cases dating back to the 1960s that are believed to be eligible for release under SB 1421.”

West reported in his memo that because the summary reports of the 35 shooting incidents occurring between 2014 – 2019 “does not require redaction or extensive review we were able to produce the report and are ready to release it to KPCC.”

The 35 OIS summaries disclosed by the city cover the past 5 ½ years (2014 to date).

Each summary is extremely limited in terms of detailed specifics related to the actual (and factual) circumstances surrounding the 35 intentional shooting incidents but at the same time a cumulative overview of the data is illuminating in several respects.

The data validates past allegations by insider personnel – as well as the many multi-million dollar jury awards and voluntary lawsuit settlements – that the secretive LBPD investigative and administrative maneuverings related to officer involved shootings are engineered in a manner that supports the often stated organizational cultural mantra that, “there are no bad shootings in the LBPD.”

Analysis of the OIS summarized data reveals that the 35 shooting incidents involved a total of 66 officers who intentionally fired their weapons at suspects.

Twenty-six of the 35 incidents were found by the LBPD administration to be in policy with the remaining nine, dating as far back as November 2015, still “pending” a policy determination. No intentional shootings were found to be “out of policy.”

The Beachcomber also noted that in each of the nine incidents still pending that the top brass gave direction for remedial action such as refresher training and a review of tactics.

In an email to the LBPD the Beachcomber asked why the policy review of the nine shooting incidents (involving 17 individual officers) was still outstanding?

In that same email the Beachcomber asked: How does the LBPD determine what kind of remedial action should be taken when a policy determination has yet to be made?

To date, the LBPD has not responded.

The data involving the 66 individual officers intentionally shooting in the 35 incidents shows that the LBPD administration referred one of the 66 officers to internal affairs for further investigation.

An “In Policy” finding was made for 49 of the officers and a finding for the remaining 17 officers is still pending.

One shooting (in September 2016) involving two officers resulted in an “in policy” finding for one of the officers and a referral to internal affairs for the second officer.

The summary document related to the second officer said the referral was to “initiate an administrative investigation related to the force used by Detective Anguiano and whether it was excessive based on the facts known to him at the time of the incident.”

The disposition of that internal affairs “investigation” is unknown at this time.

The question, however, is why after a full investigation of the shooting by the highly specialized OIS homicide detectives followed by an in-depth review of the investigation by a panel of the LBPD’s top brass, including the chief of police, was a referral to internal affairs for yet another investigation even necessary?

The Beachcomber will attempt to answer that question when the full OIS investigation, IA investigation and board of review findings are provided through our still outstanding public records requests.

The positive news found in the 35 OIS summaries is that – with the exception of a single accidental discharge – there has been a consecutive 16-month period – a record – of zero intentional shootings by LBPD officers.

Between 2014 and 2019 the LBPD averaged eight officer-involved shootings per year. That number dropped by half in 2018 to four, with the last OIS in 2018 being on March 18. To date, there has been no officer involved shootings in Long Beach.

Beachcomber files indicate that this 16-consecutive-month record is a first in at least two decades.

The LBPD was asked via email if there have been any policy changes to account for the significant drop in intentional shootings or modifications made to officer training that has contributed to the decline, as well as what Chief Luna’s overall opinion is relative to internal changes – if any – that may have contributed to the record decrease in officer involved shootings.

Luna’s spokesperson thanked us for reaching out, committed to looking at the Beachcomber request and stated that “We will try to get back to you within your (four-day) timeline.”

To date the Beachcomber has received no response.

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police.

Stephen.Beachcomber@Gmail.com

 

Category:

Comments

What a coincidence, now that the public has SB 1421 allowing access to PD secret files and now that they are required to wear body cameras, officer involved shoots have sharply deceased! Mr. Downing no need to ask the PD what they did to reduce the OIS. I can tell you they did nothing; the only thing that happen is now these corrupt cops can't BS the public that easily by saying "I WAS AFRAID BECAUSE HE WAS REACHING FOR HIS WAISTBAND." These OIS investigations are all BS they write their reports with the help of and receive input from the same OIS investigators that are suppose to investigate the incident. They are all liars and cowards.

"The question, however, is why after a full investigation of the shooting by the highly specialized OIS homicide detectives followed by an in-depth review of the investigation by a panel of the LBPD’s top brass, including the chief of police, was a referral to internal affairs for yet another investigation even necessary?"

The answer should be self-evident to any former deputy chief of police or, at least, to one who isn't so transparently biased against LBPD: There are multiple investigations involved in all officer-involved hit shootings. The only one intended to gather facts and offer recommendations related to potential officer misconduct is the one IA conducts.

Rather than explain this fact to his readers in order to inform them, however, Downing chooses to feign ignorance so he can slant this alleged "news" piece to give the appearance that LBPD must surely be hiding something.

Anything Downing writes about LBPD should appear exclusively under "opinion" (which is biased)...not "news" (which should be objective).

Mr. Greet: You claim that Mr. Downing is biased because he does not like the LBPD for some reason that you can't prove and that he is misleading the reader. But you fail to advise the reader yourself that you are a brown noser and former LBPD administrator (Sgt.).

You were disliked by other officers when you worked there because you helped cover up your fellow administrator's misconduct. You have been retired for a long time and you are a still a brown noser today.

Mr. Greet claims "the only one (investigation) intended to gather facts and offer recommendations related to potential officer misconduct is the one IA conducts," as evidence of Mr. Downing's bias.

If true, maybe former LBPD officer Greet can explain the purpose of both the investigation conducted by OIS homicide detectives and the separate investigation by LBPD's top brass, including the chief of police if they were NOT about gathering facts and offering recommendations. If these official sounding separate investigations don't gather facts and make recommendations, what actually do they do?

Douglas Zerby would still be alive today if SB 1421 and police body cameras had been in effect nine years ago.

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