Letters to the Editor

Auditor Investigation

The RSM “investigation” is a whitewash just like the Best, Best and Krieger investigation into the TigerText scandal. Nothing initiated by our city attorney’s office or our city manager’s office can ever be considered fair, unbiased, just, or thorough. We need someone like Gerrie Schipske as city attorney to begin to get some semblance of ethics.

Carlos Ovalle

It’s apparent the city, in hiring RSM, got the report they wanted. The only objective is to protect the current regime at any cost. Any cost to the public, that is. And the more money squandered, the better? All current occupants of city office need to be removed. Start with city mis-manager Tom Modica, mentored by Pat West.

Anne Proffit

 

$117M LBFD Needed?

I read the March 11 editorial by Laurence Boland with confusion and bewilderment about how someone could get something so wrong about local government. I’m glad my 33 years with LA County Fire can help him get a few things right.

The editorial reeks of hatred for governmental unions. That’s fine, basically his opinion, but in the end, he wants to cut off all donations from everybody to elected office holders. Can someone please tell Mr. Boland that those donations are as guaranteed under free speech provisions of the U.S. Constitution as his hate filled, ill-informed and ignorant rant about the Fire Department?

Boland basically wants to get rid of the Fire Department because it averages only 10% calls for fires. So, a daily department average of 200 calls means the city has 20 fires in a day. Wow, who will put them out? As a high rise or residential fire spreads, who will eventually stop it before someone dies? Has a firefighter ever been killed on a medical call? No, that’s why 10% of calls take 50% of the department’s training. It’s dangerous, ugly work with pretty complicated tactics and equipment.

Mr. Boland’s speech is also protected as he gets basically everything about the Fire Department [wrong]. Mr. Boland tries to say the department’s paramedics and firefighters are separate. Doesn’t he know that MOST firefighters are paramedics; ALL are EMT’s? Yes, the same people that come on the van, also work on the engines and trucks. It’s all one system. When a fire call goes out, paramedics and EMTs become firefighters and vice versa. The only “single function” employees are ambulance EMTs, who are mostly firefighters in training.

In Long Beach it’s a system that works well. Our Fire Department is one of the best in the country with EMS, fire, hazmat, urban rescue (USAR) all included. As Mr. Boland rants about how it works elsewhere, he’s not telling you that most of those areas have broken systems with very little fire coverage that had to shudder understaffed and underfunded volunteer fire stations years ago. One of the government services I expect from Long Beach is a paid, professional fire department with fire-based EMS. And yes, I’m willing to pay for it with my taxes.

Will Pryor

Most folks are unaware that if you are a member of the LBFD and you desire overtime all you have to do is ask and it’s yours. Also, many make more on overtime than from their regular pay.

To say this is the most pampered group with the least work involved is putting it mildly. Many people work and risk their lives on a daily basis, but these folks risk posterior blisters far more than anything else.

Unfortunately, Long Beach’s councils, mayors and leaders have always had a very light touch on the truth but at least the LBFD gets a great pension as well! What a gig.

Vance Frederick

The light of day is shown on the LBFD. Great article. We should review the policy, practices and budgets for the LBFD and make responsible changes. Thank you for your article.

Gregory G. Miller

 

LBPD Ranks Poorly

Police Scorecard (below link) is an organization that evaluates and compares police departments nationwide using data from state and federal databases, public records requests to local police departments and media reports. In 2020, Long Beach’s Police Department (LBPD) was ranked nearly the worst in the nation based on use of force, arrests for low level offenses, solving murder cases, holding officers accountable and spending on overall policing. Only four out of 500 police agencies rated worse than the LBPD. This comes despite Long Beach spending more per capita residents than all but 27 other police departments.

Out of 500 police agencies nationwide, only seven police departments paid more per capita residents on police settlements than the LBPD. Over the past four years, the LBPD has averaged $4 million per year in paid settlements.

Reported misconduct complaints totaled 941 against the LBPD over the past four years, ranking it in the top 20 nationwide for the number of complaints received. Incredibly, exactly zero of those 941 misconduct complaints were sustained, forcing the complainants to file lawsuits.

Out of 500 police agencies nationwide, only 15 police departments had more shootings per arrest than the LBPD.

The LBPD was ranked second to last in the nation for low-level police outcomes, requiring more use of force for low-level arrests than all police departments nationwide except for Chicago.

Out of 500 police agencies, only three rated worse than the LBPD for their use of force, including police tasers, batons, K-9s, strangleholds, pepper spray and officer-involved shootings.

The LBPD is among 120 police agencies nationwide that claim to have banned neck restraint choke holds in 2019 following widespread protests over the murder of George Floyd. Yet Long Beach was still rated the fourth highest in its use of choke holds in 2020, a year after choke holds were supposedly banned.

https://policescorecard.org/findings

Long Beach misconduct complaints would barely exist if police officers were required to carry at their expense their own malpractice insurance like doctors. Settlement payments would be paid by each officer’s malpractice insurance rather than Long Beach taxpayers.

Officers with high misconduct complaints would be forced to resign because of their higher cost for their malpractice insurance. Police officers would finally have some reason to not commit misconduct.

Long Beach settling a recent lawsuit for $499,800 means nothing to Long Beach management. That’s peanuts. I was in a meeting with 30 other people when a very high-ranking Long Beach city official in the meeting was told of a $10 million mistake the city would have to correct. The city official’s response was “It’s just taxpayer’s money.” The city employees in the room laughed. I spoke up and proclaimed, “I happen to be one of those taxpayers you are joking about.” The city official looked at me but didn’t apologize. He just shrugged his shoulders.

A settlement means NOTHING to the Long Beach Police Department or any city worker. It doesn’t impact them or their budget or their continued misconduct. What needs to be done is the settlements need to be taken out of the police budget. $499,800 taken from the budget might mean two fewer cops are hired by the department. That’s $499,800 less overtime cops would earn.

Alone, $499,800 may not mean much. However, LBPD literally settles $10 million per year out of court because of their misconduct. Taking that $10 million directly out of the police budget might encourage the department to self-police their own misconduct ... for once.

Mike Ruehle

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