Recovery Plan – Authentic or Smoke & Mirrors?

By: 
Stephen Downing

On July 20 the Long Beach City Council received a presentation on the city manager’s proposed Long Beach Safety Recovery Plan (SRP) and asked that “the council provide input and policy direction, and approve the plan”… and “Authorize the city manager to allocate $5 million in the General Fund group to implement the proposed plan." 


The plan included 14 programming categories with a short paragraph describing each plan category.

 

Safety Programs One-Time Investment

Coordinated Response Team (CRT)

$ 1,750,000

Calls for Service – Base Staffing Levels

$ 1,000,000

Neighborhood Walks Program

$     400,000

Neighborhood Safe Streets – Bikes

$     400,000

Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement Training

$     400,000

Entertainment and Business Districts

$     300,000

Community Youth Engagement                                                                                                 $     250,000

Gun Buy Back Program                                                                                                             $       75,000

Subtotal $4,575,000

Violence Prevention Programs One-Time Investment

Be SAFE Expansion

$     110,000

Safe Passage – Violence Interruption

$     100,000

Office of Youth Development- Summer Neighborhood Engagement Program

$       60,000

Increase Funding to Current Building Youth Social Capital Grantees

$       60,000

Teen Program Enhancement

$       60,000

Career Exploration – Exploring Space Beach

$       35,000

Subtotal 

$   425,000

Total Proposed Plan Funding

$ 5,000,000

 

With the exception of one, the recovery plan appeared to have more public relations value than long-term substance.

The one plan with the potential for a positive long-term impact upon the organizational culture of the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) is the $400,000 program identified as “Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement Training (ABLE). It has the ability to build community trust and a reservoir of good will that the department and city can depend upon when the occasional scandal erupts from controversial actions – such as bad shootings, excessive force lawsuits, exposures of secret software and hardware programs that inflict injury upon constitutional guarantees and other substandard behaviors by department personnel that have become almost routine in Long Beach

The program description provided to the council by City Manager Tom Modica on the council agenda is as follows:

“The Active Bystander Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project, Georgetown University Law Center's national training and support initiative for U.S. law enforcement agencies, is committed to building a culture of peer intervention that prevents harm. The goals of the program include preventing misconduct, avoiding police mistakes, and promoting officer health and wellness. Participation in the program requires a dedicated program coordinator to oversee the program. The Police Department proposes to allocate $400,000 in one-time funding to match federal assistance expected to support this program.”

The ABLE Project

The ABLE project at Georgetown Law Center originated in New Orleans, where after the police murder of George Floyd, deputy chiefs went to roll calls to ensure police officers knew how to intervene not just on each other’s misconduct but on supervising officers.

The New Orleans deputy chiefs recognized Floyd’s case as the most glaring example of where an intervention could have saved someone’s life, saying, “ He struggled, said he’d comply, said he couldn’t breathe, begged for his mother and died while officers watched or turned their backs on the officer on Floyd’s neck.”

In 2014 Dr. Ervin Staub, the founding director of a program on the psychology of peace and violence designed to help police officers stop unnecessary harmful behavior by fellow officers and the New Orleans Police Department developed the EPIC (Ethical Policing Is Courageous) Peer Intervention Program. 

According to information provided by the Georgetown Law Center, “the ABLE Project builds upon EPIC and Dr. Staub’s prior work and “delivers practical, scenario-based training for police agencies in the strategies and tactics of police peer intervention.”

The law center states that, “ABLE training will be provided at no cost to local law enforcement agencies but those agencies must commit to creating a culture of active bystandership and peer intervention through policy, training, support and accountability.

Beachcomber Questions

Being familiar with the elements of the innovative policing program and the Georgetown Law Center’s recommended conditions for participation that address the long term goals of the training it affords if police departments properly implement the program, the Beachcomber filed an eComment request associated with the agenda item and asked that the council, when asking the city manager or chief of police questions related to the $400,000 program, that the following questions be asked and answered:

  1. Since the program is offered for no cost how is the $400,000 allocation of funds intended to be used?
  2. In selecting who will attend the ABLE training at Georgetown Law Center, what will be the rank of the LBPD officer selected to attend the training and how many personnel will be sent for training?
  3. The program requires that all commissioned personnel (including recruits) receive eight hours of initial, dedicated ABLE training, followed by at least two hours of annual refresher training. Is the cost of this on-going training provided for in the LBPD budget and if not, how will the requirement be accommodated?
  4. Will existing training hours for other subjects be impacted?
  5. Will the city agree to make public all surveys and studies published by participation in the ABLE program?
  6. What is the source of the federal assistance that the city expects to receive that will support the program?

In that no member of the City Council or the mayor had the interest to ask the questions, the Beachcomber sent an email to LBPD media relations, with copies to Chief Luna, the city manager, Suzie Price, as vice chair of the Public Safety Committee, and Karen Owens, Chief Luna’s “community outreach” head and asked for a response.

On July 23 Chief Luna’s spokesperson replied, “At this time we defer to the information provided in the council item on July 20, 2021.”

On July 24 the Beachcomber filed a Public Records Act (PRA) request for all documents related to the LBPD’s participation, budget and training plans related to its participation and implementation planning related to the $400,000 project.

This request will help our readers better determine city government's authenticity in announcing the delivery of programs that contribute quality change to the culture and operations of the LBPD as opposed to the public relations value of an agenda item or press release that – when examined and in my opinion – has no substance.

 

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police. stephen.beachcomber@gmail.com

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Comments

This is all smoke and mirrors, LBPD is using fancy terminology with the excuse of crime suppression to give themselves some more OT. They are BSing the citizens of LB to make some more money. An example is using $400,000 for a class thats free LOL. We don't need any BS task force or CRT team all we need is for the lazy cops that are sitting around at coffee shops and the police stations to get off their butts and do some proactive policing. These cops all-ready get paid over 100k and still cant handle the job. Just look at the shooting all over the LBC. save some money and fire over paid clowns like Luna and his staff that cain control the LBPD. SMH.

A Interesting and Well Written article. As a Victim of LBPD, Programs Like "ABLE" and "EPIC" could help. Heck, The CPCC could Help, if there was Any Real Accountability by The PD. Sad State of Affairs. Change is due.

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