Will Chief Hebeish Support Luna’s Lies?

By: 
Stephen Downing

Wally Hebeish

On July 24 this newspaper reported upon the so-called $5 million Long Beach Safety Recovery Plan (SRP) that included 14 programming categories, one of which appeared to have the potential for a positive long-term benefit and impact upon the organizational culture of the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD).

The $400,000 program was identified as “Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement Training (ABLE), a program administered by the Georgetown University Law Center’s national training and support initiative for U.S. law enforcement agencies committed to building a culture of peer intervention that prevents harm.”

The article can be read here: https://beachcomber.news/content/recovery-plan-%E2%80%93-authentic-or-smoke-mirrors

Six Questions

In the article the Beachcomber reported that the City Council was asked via eComment to pose six questions of the LBPD prior to program approval at their July 29 meeting.

In that no member of the council or the mayor had the interest to ask the questions, the Beachcomber sent an email to LBPD media relations asking for a response to the six questions. Chief Luna’s spokesperson replied, “At this time we defer to the information provided in the council item.”

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

On Aug. 19 the LBPD responded – not by providing supporting documents, as is the established PRA practice – but instead by offering written answers to the six questions.

Answers Accepted, Published

The Beachcomber published each of the answers unedited in an article headlined: “City Recovery Plan Answers Provided.”

That article can read here: https://beachcomber.news/content/city-recovery-plan-answers-provided.

At the time the LBPD provided the six answers they also wrote as part of the email response that “We are currently checking to see if there are any other responsive documents. We will update you on or before August, 31, 2021.”

Documents, Questions Still Outstanding

The Beachcomber wrote back the same day (Aug. 18), thanked the LBPD staff for their response and stated: “We look forward to receiving the documents requested, including the enrollment and application documents.”

This newspaper also pointed to the outstanding question related to our primary question surrounding the program and asked a second time: “What rank will be selected to attend ABLE and bring the expertise back to the LBPD?”

On August 30 the LBPD staff responded: “Good afternoon. Just confirming that we are in the process of following up on your inquiry.”

On Sept 2, 2021 the LBPD PRA staff wrote: “At this time, we do not have any responsive documents to answer the question.”

Luna Highlights ABLE Program

On Nov. 16 Chief Luna made a major presentation on “Key Highlights of How LBPD Has Evolved Since 2014” before the City Council.

Luna’s presentation had all the earmarks of his rumored run for the office of Los Angeles County Sheriff – all of which was safely cloaked from campaign law violations by council agenda language that described his PowerPoint presentation as a “recommendation to receive and file a presentation on police initiatives and advancement from the Long Beach Police Department.”

One of the “Key Highlights” in Luna’s PowerPoint presentation was the ABLE program, prominently advertised in the year 2021 as the “Active Bystander for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Program.”

The next day (Nov. 17) the Beachcomber discovered that – without notification – the LBPD had closed the newspaper’s request for documents on the ABLE program.

We wrote the following email to the LBPD PRA staff: “We note that this PRA has been closed. It should not be closed. Enrollment in the ABLE program requires documents be filed. The request also has many questions that have not been answered, including who has been selected to attend the training. Please confirm that this PRA request has been re-opened or not.”

Hypocrisy Featured at Campaign Event

On Dec. 1 Luna announced his run for sheriff, making a statement that, “The Sheriff’s Department is in disarray” and “to solve the problem you have to first acknowledge there is a problem, “ an acknowledgment that Luna never once practiced in his seven-years as the LBPD’s chief.

PRA Back on Table

On Dec. 2 the PRA staff wrote: “We are following up with staff and will reply back as soon as we are given a response.”

The Beachcomber waited for a response until Dec. 18 and then wrote once again: “Your last response to this request for documents was 16 days ago. This original request was made five months ago. If the LBPD is in fact enrolled in the ABLE program there are documents and community letters of recommendation required for such enrollment as well as documents related to identify who had been selected to undergo the training at Georgetown Law Center.” Why is it that you cannot produce the documents in a timely manner as required by the Public Records Act?”

Luna’s Radio Signoff

On Dec. 30 at 4:13 p.m. Chief Luna – following a LBPD tradition – signed off in a radio broadcast.

The dispatcher responded on all four-radio channels: “Good luck in your run for sheriff, sir. You are always true blue. God bless you and your family, chief.”

The tradition of congratulatory responses from officers in the field did not materialize. Radio silence prevailed.

The ABLE Lie Confirmed

On Jan. 3 the Beachcomber sent an email to Declan Sullivan, an ABLE program associate at the Center for Innovations in Community Safety at the Georgetown Law Center and asked: “Has the Long Beach Police Department submitted an application to join the ABLE project?”

The next day Sullivan responded: “No. We have not received a formal application from the Long Beach, CA Police.

Will Hebeish Offer Change or Maintain the Status Quo?

On Jan. 4 the Beachcomber sent the LBPD the following email:

“The Beachcomber has learned – in spite of former LBPD Chief Robert Luna’s two presentations before the City Council announcing the LBPD’s participation in the Georgetown Law Center’s ABLE Program and the many messages related to the Beachcomber’s PRA on the subject program to which the department has responded – that the ABLE Project at Georgetown Law Center has never received an application from the LBPD to join the program.”

We would like to obtain comment from our new chief, Wally Hebeish, relative to his view of the LBPD’s lack of transparency and corrupt dishonesty in reporting upon this program and whether he intends to make changes to the LBPD’s overall practices-related transparency.”

Chief Hebeish’s spokesperson, Allison Gallagher, responded, “We decline to provide comment.”

The Beachcomber has not investigated or validated the other 13 programs announced as part of Mayor Robert Garcia’s $5 million Safety Recovery Plan currently overseen by City Manager Tom Modica.

 

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

Chief Luna departed leaving a negative legacy
So unfortunate for the PD that remains broken, especially during
difficult times.
Thanks, Steve, for keeping us informed

The city manager and the city selected a rotten apple from a rotten apple basket, why would we expect anything different to happen. Bad people will continue to be bad, unless good people do something about it. Let's call for a federal investigation of this corrupt organization. Corrupt people are falling all over the US but not in one of the most corrupt city (LBC) in the USA, something is wrong here, SMH

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