As a Councilmember in North Long Beach, I know how slow public safety response times can be. When we lost Rescue 12 from our local Fire Station in 2010, it was devastating to our community. Response times increased across the city and were lagging for years. Our community organized, and we advocated and won the restoration of Rescue 12 in 2017.
Protecting vital public safety services is critical for a thriving city. That’s why, as Mayor, I will prioritize hiring additional police officers and firefighters to meet the needs of our community.
The most challenging moments I've experienced as a Councilmember are the phone calls from a Long Beach Police Department Watch Commander telling me there's been a shooting in our community and a loss of life. Early in my tenure in 2014, three young men were killed in different parts of North Long Beach. At their age, I would have been on a college campus. If they had more access to opportunities, would they still be with us right now?
We need a well-resourced police department to respond to criminal activity and emergencies. We also need economic and educational opportunities that help prevent crime and promote safer communities.
Research shows that communities are safer when residents have access to stable jobs, high-quality schools and social services, and clean and vibrant public spaces. The Long Beach neighborhoods that have a history of higher crime too often have lacked community investments, resources, and services.
Before the pandemic, we made progress on reducing crime, the lowest rate in decades. Since the pandemic started, we’ve seen an uptick. Now is the time to take on this challenge and get our city back on track. This isn’t an either-or conversation. We need both police and prevention.
I support ensuring the Long Beach Police Department has the resources to respond to criminal activity and crises. As we continue to recruit new officers to replace those who have retired or moved on from their careers, I will prioritize hiring police raised in our community who understand the neighborhoods they seek to serve.
As Mayor, I will invest in community policing, violence prevention, and a data-driven approach to community safety. When gun violence increased last summer, our police department reviewed the data and launched a neighborhood walk program in areas with the highest number of violent and property crimes. Their community engagement led to reduced calls for service and an 80% reduction in shootings.
We need more inclusive community engagement strategies within our public safety system. We need a community-led process to identify key priorities for strengthening our quality of life. We know that in neighborhoods where trust in government has been broken, residents may be less likely to seek out city services. We must foster meaningful partnerships between residents, police, community organizations, and city agencies with a stake in public safety to address these issues.
Ensuring everyone remains safe and healthy in their neighborhood will be my priority as our Mayor, and we can achieve it by working together.
MY TRACK RECORD ON PUBLIC SAFETY
I have a proven track record of solving Long Beach’s biggest challenges and delivering results. That is especially true with Public Safety.
I was a leading voice on the city council in support of Measure A, a ballot measure passed in 2020 to increase funding for public safety services. This measure provided funding for 41 new public safety positions, stopped an additional 108 from being cut, and restored the Long Beach Police Department’s South Patrol Division, which had been cut entirely years earlier.
After Measure A’s passage, I authored a proposal to use the money to reinstate the then-cut Police Academy operations and restore a further nine police officer positions cut from the 2017 city budget. The same proposal also restored Paramedic Rescue 12, which lowered response times by three minutes in my district.
I voted for the city’s Safety Recovery Plan, which totaled a $5 million investment in public safety resources, including $1 million to stop an incoming cut of 33 weekly law enforcement patrol shifts. The plan designated $1.75 million to fund the City’s Coordinated Response Team, which responds to and investigates active firearm assault incidents. Before we passed this plan, the program was on the verge of being cut entirely.
On May 10, 2022, I led the effort to pass a proposal to create a dedicated Long Beach Boulevard Corridor Safety Strategy to address human trafficking and directed $50,000 in Neighborhood Safe Streets funds to the Police Department to pay for extra patrols.
WHAT WE’VE DONE
Safe neighborhoods have community policing and investments in what creates a healthier and safer city– mental health services, parks, youth programs, schools, libraries, and workforce development programs.
That's what we've done in North Long Beach. I spearheaded the effort to build the Michelle Obama Library, which has provided a venue for afterschool programs and increased literacy rates. We built the Doris Topsy-Elvord Community Center and the Ron Arias Health Equity Centers to provide youth, mental health, workforce opportunities, and family preservation programs like the Fundamentals of Fatherhood initiative.
I've supported youth on their path to college by creating a fund for scholarships and championing the North Long Beach Higher Education Center. I brought President Obama's My Brother's Keeper Initiative to Long Beach. I collaborated with the city prosecutor to create the Promising Adults Tomorrow's Hope (PATH) program that allows young first-time non-violent offenders the opportunity to pursue job training or educational opportunities and get back on the right track.
When gun violence increased last summer, our police department reviewed the data and launched a neighborhood walk program in areas with the highest number of violent and property crimes. Their community engagement led to reduced calls for service and an 80% reduction in shootings.
I'll have worked to eliminate nuisance motels and liquor stores in the city that drive violence, human trafficking, and crime to make neighborhoods more stable and to free up valuable public safety resources for responding to community needs and reducing response times.
HOW WE WILL LEAD
Developing a “Mayor’s Plan for Public Safety”
Public safety means different things to different neighborhoods. During our first year as Mayor, we will develop a Mayor’s Plan for Public Safety. We will call on experts to learn what has been successful across the country in creating safer and thriving cities. We will collaborate with every council district to hear directly from our residents about their concerns and perspective on public safety in their own neighborhoods.
Collaborating with our Long Beach Police Department to promote, hire and retain a diverse workforce
We respect police officers and are committed to attracting and recruiting the most qualified candidates to Long Beach. Currently, there is a 10% vacancy rate in staffing. We must work to promote a diverse workforce and focus on hiring those raised in our community who understand the neighborhoods they seek to serve.
In addition, we must also focus on retaining our current police officers and ensure that we are providing them with the resources, training, and tools to effectively keep our neighborhoods safe. We must fund additional police academies to keep up with attrition rates and invest in longevity incentives to retain current officers.
Investing in the creation and support of healthier and safer neighborhoods
We must invest in what creates healthier and safer neighborhoods – mental health services, parks, youth programs, schools, libraries, and workforce development programs. When we focus on addressing underlying needs, we can help strengthen public safety as a whole for the entire city.
That's what we've done in North Long Beach. I spearheaded the effort to build the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library, which has provided a venue for afterschool programs and increased literacy rates. We built the Doris Topsy-Elvord Community Center and the Ron Arias Health Equity Center to provide youth, mental health, workforce opportunities, and family preservation programs like the Fundamentals of Fatherhood initiative.
As Mayor, I'll focus on neighborhood quality of life by eliminating nuisance motels and liquor stores that drive violence, human trafficking, and crime, free up valuable public safety resources, and reduce response times.
Strengthening systems and increasing staffing levels to improve emergency response times
In an emergency, every second counts. We must guarantee that our systems, including our dispatch services, are working efficiently and are appropriately resourced to expedite emergency response times and keep our residents safe.
Working on getting guns off our streets and reducing gun violence through effective, data-driven programs, policies, and legislation.
We have seen a surge in gun purchases across America that many attributed to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the Long Beach Police Department seized 1,068 firearms — 17% identified as ghost guns.
We must continue the City’s successful gun buyback program to combat the number of guns on our streets. They are a cost-effective way to reduce the number of unwanted firearms in the general public and provide a means for education regarding injury prevention. They must be done in conjunction with other policies that will collectively reduce the number of firearms in circulation in our community. I support proposed state legislation, AB 1621, which would ban the manufacturing of ghost guns, make assembling one out of the parts a crime, and ban sales of any equipment needed to complete one.
As Mayor, there is no greater responsibility than the safety, health, and wellbeing of our communities. I will work every day to ensure that you feel safe to live, work, and raise your family, no matter where you live in Long Beach.