Bits 'n' Pieces

Hebeish is New Police Chief

City Manager Tom Modica announced the appointment of Wally Hebeish as the new chief of police for the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD). Hebeish, a 27-year law enforcement veteran and the current assistant chief of police for Long Beach, will promote to police chief effective Jan. 1, 2022, following the retirement of Chief Robert Luna.

“It is a privilege to appoint Assistant Chief Hebeish to serve as the new Police Chief for our great city,” said Modica. “Chief Hebeish possesses a thorough understanding of critical issues and priorities currently affecting our Long Beach community. He continues to lead and inspire our police department personnel and has been instrumental in implementing programs and initiatives that increase public trust surrounding equity and constitutional policing, improve employee wellness, and address crime in our community.”

Chief Hebeish has served as LBPD’s assistant chief since 2019, serving as second in command to Chief Robert Luna. As assistant chief, he has led Police Department operations through many unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide civil unrest while concurrently navigating the Police Department through complex staffing and budgetary adjustments.

During his tenure in executive management, he has implemented strategies to reduce crime, address the nationwide increase in gun violence, enhance the Police Department’s Quality of Life team to provide further resources and support for people experiencing homelessness, all while also focusing key initiatives on strengthening police-community relationships and improving public trust.

 Additionally, he has provided leadership in policy development, risk management, organizational growth and budget management, and notably created LBPD’s Office of Constitutional Policing to rethink traditional policing, guide organizational progress and implement goals to support the city’s Framework for Reconciliation.

“I am extremely grateful and honored for the opportunity to lead the employees of the Long Beach Police Department in serving our community. I look forward to building on the many advancements we have made under the guidance of Chief Luna and continuing our efforts in modernizing our organization in a manner that strengthens public trust, improves employee wellness, and demonstrates accountability and transparency. I would like to thank Mr. Modica for his confidence in my abilities to serve our community as a Chief of Police that will continue to align our organization with the principles of 21st Century Policing.”

Prior to serving as assistant chief, Chief Hebeish served in other leadership roles within LBPD including patrol bureau deputy chief, support bureau deputy chief and chief of staff. He has worked a variety of assignments throughout his career and has extensive experience in the areas of criminal intelligence, investigations, patrol and internal affairs. He began his career in law enforcement in 1994 with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and has served the Long Beach community with the LBPD since 1995.

Chief Hebeish holds a Master’s Degree in Communications with focuses in new media and marketing from Southern New Hampshire University and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from California State University Long Beach. Additionally, Chief Hebeish is a graduate of the Major Cities Chiefs Association’s Police Executive Leadership Institute and has attended the Harvard University Public Safety Summit.

LGB Taxiway Upgrades

A major construction project to improve the safety of the Long Beach Airport (LGB) airfield will commence the first week in January and is expected to last through August 2022. The $25 million project, primarily funded by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), will bring the airport in line with the latest FAA standards.

The project will reconstruct Taxiway L, which is the primary taxiway for all departing commercial aircraft. The asphalt pavement has reached the end of its useful service and will be reconstructed with concrete pavement that has an anticipated service life of 40 years.

Because the construction will occur adjacent to the main runway, Runway 12-30 will close nightly from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. through approximately August, with the exception of Friday and Saturday evenings. Due to the closure, operations will shift to Runway 08L-26R, which runs parallel and just north of Wardlow Road.

Long Beach Airport, which has one of the strictest noise control ordinances in the nation, requires that all commercial flights be scheduled between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Operations between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. are allowed if the delays are caused by weather, air traffic or mechanical issues.

Sustainability efforts in the project include the replacement of all existing taxiway lights and signage with LED lights, which have a much longer life expectancy, lower energy consumption and lower maintenance costs compared to existing lighting. Additionally, the contractor will re-use asphalt millings from the demolition of the existing Taxiway L as a base material for the new pavement section, which will significantly reduce the number of dump truck trips required for construction of the aggregate subbase and the amount of new aggregate material that needs to be produced.

LGB encompasses 1,166 acres and has three runways. It is unique among municipal airports for its diverse portfolio of Class A office buildings, hotels, retail, industrial facilities and a municipal golf course.

Grant for Safety Education

The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been awarded a $302,500 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The one-year grant will continue and expand the DHHS’ Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Division’s Walk and Roll Long Beach Program focused on improving and promoting safety for all pedestrians and bicyclists, among other educational activities conducted between Oct. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2022.

Grant funding will be used to support a variety of comprehensive strategies and activities that promote bicycle and pedestrian safety, including:

  • Hosting bicycle and pedestrian safety pop-up events, where staff will distribute safety information and reflective gear at street intersections frequently traveled by pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Facilitating in-person and/or virtual walking workshops for older adults to provide strategies to walk safely in their neighborhoods and to safely interact with new pedestrian street infrastructure.
  • Conducting interactive in-person and/or virtual community skill-building activities on how to use bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure properly and safely.
  • Launching a new Youth Ambassador Program to encourage and promote safe cycling and pedestrian behavior.
  • Providing training and safety kits to school crossing guards to promote safe routes to school at sites throughout Long Beach.

In partnership with other city departments and community-based organizations, funding will also be used to support the DHHS participation in national, state and local bike and pedestrian safety awareness campaigns including Long Beach Walk to School Week, which will take place in March and National Bike Safety Month, which will take place in May.

“Walking and biking are great ways to be physically active,” said Health Department Director Kelly Colopy. “This program will provide community members with the tools to prevent injuries and stay safe while participating in these fun and healthy activities.”

This is the sixth year the DHHS has received an OTS grant to promote bike and pedestrian safety. Last year, despite the challenges of COVID-19, the Walk and Roll Long Beach Program provided bicycle and pedestrian safety materials at events such as emergency food distributions, reaching more than 11,500 residents. The program also distributed and fit 276 bicycle helmets and partnered with the Parks, Recreation and Marine Department to provide bicycle safety training and bicycle helmet fitting and distribution to COVID-19 Health Ambassadors.

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