LONG BEACH –
The Long Beach City Council voted to adopt the City of Long Beach’s $3 billion budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 on Tuesday, Aug. 24. The new budget includes a notable and controversial increase to the budget of the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) to the tune of $250 million, or about 64 percent of the total General Fund adopted within the new City budget.
According to the budget proposal, the one-time funds will go toward the Police Department’s Diversity recruitment mentorship and partnership program to foster a workforce that reflects Long Beach’s diverse community, offset within the Department’s budget. Although the full allocation of the funds has not been fully disclosed, a few items listed within the proposal included: $2.2 million for Neighborhood Safe Streets Initiative in the Police Department and $13.6 million for Radio Replacement Lease Costs; effectively deterring the possibility for media coverage of breaking news throughout the City. A $20.8 million infrastructure dedication was also included in Measure A which provides for past commitments and funding for Police and Fire academy renovations and other infrastructure, among other things.
The proposed, now adopted budget was met with immediate opposition by community members upon its release back in July with the increase to the police budget as the main complaint. Many residents expressed their concerns on social media and in-person at budget hearings citing years of turmoil between law enforcement and the community they “police”; as well as with the year-long protests across the country following the killing of unarmed black people by officers back in 2020. Those opposed felt the increase in the budget was unnecessary and that it rewarded the negative behavior of police while ignoring the real concerns of local citizens. The secrecy regarding the future use of these funds, if awarded, continues to be a cause of concern.
During budget hearings, many residents raised their voices to protest against the police budget increase. Some even provided alternative uses for the funds that could directly benefit the local community.
“Rather than focusing on the root cost of the issues, we are thinking about giving more money to policing, “ said Gabriela Hernandez, Executive Director of the Long Beach Immigration Rights Coalition. “You know what the community needs? Access to housing, access to healthcare. We’re not getting that, Cops do not keep us safe. We’ve said this multiple times. Please listen. Look at us when we’re speaking to you all. We ask for respect and we need to defund the police now. And we need to adopt the people’s budget.”
Despite the significant uproar against this budget, the Long Beach City Council has unanimously voted to support this bill, including the pivotal issue of police funding.
The new budget will go into effect Oct. 1. To view the full budget, visit the Financial Management Department website.