Jay Beeler

As I read the numerous comments about the recent civil unrest, I did not share the perspective of several writers. What I saw was two, distinct types of lawlessness that were being addressed by the police with the same, weak tactics.

Demonstrations that escalate to blocking freeways/streets and violating police orders to disperse need a coordinated approach that starts with establishing a police perimeter, much like they establish when a single lawbreaker is being sought in a specific geographic area of a few city blocks.

Demonstrations that escalate to looting do not require a perimeter because the criminals are already inside the walls. That was obvious as we watched a dozen Long Beach businesses under attack Sunday night with no police presence. It was clear from the news helicopter viewpoint that thieves avoided any business with a single police car present outside the front door.

The LBPD’s approach was to close the barn door after the horse was gone! They’d send a squad of about 25 officers after the plunderers left to loot another store a half-block away.

Once a perimeter is established for an unlawful assembly, the police should tighten their ranks and deploy drones to mark those failing to disperse with a colored, non-toxic substance. Banks use this tactic to ID the perpetrator after they open bait money. This makes it easier to identify each lawbreaker as the wall of police tightens and arrests made of the “sitting ducks.” Water canons also serve this purpose.

Arrestees should be detained on site until peace is restored, cited and released for a later court date or payment of a hefty fine. Those failing to produce identification should be photographed, fingerprinted and jailed until positive identification is forthcoming and bail money is posted.

The looters should be shot, much like any person who illegally enters your home. The mom and pop business owner should be able to protect their livelihood with lethal or non-lethal means. Twelve-gauge rubber buckshot is my choice to quell anyone trying to break into my place of business.

If they are intent on setting fire to my home or business with a molotov cocktail, I’ll skip the buckshot and use Clint Eastwood’s (SFO detective Dirty Harry’s) Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver, chambered for a .44 Magnum cartridge.

It’s doubtful that chain stores and other large businesses will care about challenging looters, beyond having metal security screens and a security guard. Their insurance will cover most of the loss and there won’t be any messy lawsuits arising from injured employees or looters.

Mom and pop can’t survive with that approach and need to fight back. At a very minimum they should have an inexpensive video recording system – like Ring – to help authorities ID the thugs afterward.

The bottom line is that none of the local police agencies are equipped to quash massive civil unrest using current tactics, especially in Long Beach. They are outnumbered against huge angry mobs that far exceed anything that mutual aid from other agencies addresses.

Early Monday morning, I observed two police cars with four officers “guarding” the broken window at the T-Mobile store at Ximeno Avenue and PCH. Why can’t one officer be stationed there until the store’s management shows up? We constantly see this same poor management of resources at both fire and police incidents citywide, demonstrating why we do not need more public safety officers – just better deployment of those we have.

Smart city leaders should be prepared to use civilian volunteers and public safety retirees during anarchy. In Long Beach this may not be possible because the police and fire unions are too fat and happy to allow any outside participation on their turf. For them, crime is a business that pays their salary; the more crime the merrier. They bemoan legal marijuana sales that took away easy targets for arrest and filling jail cells.

Let’s not hold our breath that anything positive or effective will result from this latest chaos. Our city’s weak leadership is too focused on wasting resources and pillaging citizen’s pocketbooks.


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