This post is a response to an article in the Beachcomber by former Councilperson of Long Beach’s 5th District, Gerrie Schipske, titled “Can we Defund the LBPD?” found here.
Always well thought out Gerrie Schipske. I do humbly have to disagree on the final conclusion. The logic is, if we disband the Police Department we would still be obligated to maintain our current pension agreement. That would be the case if we kept the Department. So for me, that is a non-starter for a logical conclusion.
I do not believe it is in the best interests of justice to retain our current Department in the form and hires it has. Too many cover-ups have occurred over the 35 years I have lived here. They have even covered up City Council Members’ actions. Although we have made progress from time to time, the culture of this Department seems always to float back into a repressive, cover-up mentality. Whether they target Blacks, Hispanics, Cambodians, Gays, or some other minority, the brutality is similar. Now we have a lame leadership that is throwing all its subordinates under the bus and blaming them for the destruction of our businesses.
I do not believe a simple change of command will solve this deeply rooted problem. Only a drastic threat to the LBPD will bring this rogue Police Officers Association to the table for a new negotiation. We have two years before their contract is up. I suggest we take this time to prepare. It can never hurt to find out how much it would cost to bring in the LA Sheriffs. We have done this before in the early 1990s for North Long Beach. They served us for 2 years while we reconfigured our Department to take over.
Without a BIG stick, this corrupt POA will never renegotiate a contract that assures transparency, accountability, and responsibility. If we are pleasantly surprised that all the options are on the table, and real reform can be achieved then fine. But if they stonewall us again, we have a plan in reserve. We must renegotiate salaries, the benefit packages, overtime reform, shift work hours, and days of work in the week, the number of managers, hiring a full contingency of officers at a reasonable price with reasonable benefits, not this “give me everything you got” demand that the POA enforces against City Hall.
Now the only question is, will this City Council and Mayor who have been bought by the POA to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars stand up to them, or duck and cover from the outrage of our citizens? It seems to me that everyone wants someone to come to their aid when their home is invaded. But, no one wants to bankrupt their grandchildren due to graft and bad contracts. Just the pay-outs for Judgements and Settlements against this Department at $30.3 Million in 5 years call out for drastic measures. No business would survive such debilitating costs. The only reason this continues is that the LBPD depends upon a “controlled” City Council and Mayor to increase taxes on regular citizens to fund this mismanagement and misconduct.
This is a seminal moment across the country, and perhaps our only chance to bring ethics back to government. We dare not lose the momentum to give people reasonable, sound, and fair security.