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As shootings rise in Long Beach, council looks toward solutions to address violent crime

Long Beach City Council addressed public concern over rising violent and quality-of-life crime rates seen in the past year.

Long Beach City Council addressed public concern over rising violent and quality-of-life crime rates seen in the past year during their meeting on Tuesday night.

The item was brought forward by Councilmember Mary Zendejas and Councilmember Cindy Allen, who have each seen an increase in lethal shootings in their respective districts in downtown and East Long Beach. Described in a Long Beach Post report, there were a total of 381 shootings in 2020 compared to the 232 average seen in the past four years—a deadly increase of 149 violent crime cases.

“As council members our first priority is the safety of our residents,” Zendejas said. “Given the recent shootings and other high profile acts of violence in our city, especially in this first district, I felt that I must ensure to my residents that we are doing everything within our power to bring this to an end.”

Bill Pearl, who publishes LBReport, dissented towards the method in which the Long Beach Police Department publishes their monthly crime reports during public comment. 

“The City of Long Beach no longer lists serious part one crimes against persons and property by council district; the city used to routinely do that,” Pearl said during public comment. “It was easy for us taxpayers to compare what’s going on in council district two with five and seven and nine, but that stopped.”

Presently, LBPD sections off crime statistics in separate North, South, East, West and citywide regions. Pearl stated that without a clear distinction between districts, there is room for confusion and misinformation amongst Long Beach residents. Pearl noted that incumbent Stacy Mungo, in her official 2018 ballot statement, attributed lower crime rates in the East region of Long Beach to her leadership, when crime statistics included numbers outside of her district.

There was unwavering approval among councilmembers to revisit and outline new efforts to ensure safety in the city. 

“It’s a long-term strategy,” Councilmember Rex Richardson said. “It is the process of looking at the conditions that surround communities in common that have shootings and look at some of the factors.”

Richardson encouraged looking towards community investment to support and nurture communities for long-term violence prevention.

He pointed out that factors like youth programming, open space and investments in education can affect violent crime rates. Violence prevention, he said, needs to be coupled with crime suppression and intervention. 

“Poverty is, a lot of times, the common thread between these communities,” Richardson said.  “It’s really three-dimensional chess, what’s happening.”

City staff will report back on the item in 30 days, a shorter turnaround from the typical 90 days.

The next Long Beach City Council meeting will occur next Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. via teleconference.