Community groups call for firing of police chief and city manager over TigerText scandal

Several community groups gathered outside Long Beach City Hall on Tuesday to demand the firing of Police Chief Robert Luna and City Manager Pat West over the police department’s use of an app that automatically deleted text messages.

Chanting “Delete Chief Luna, delete Pat West, cut PD’s budget and reinvest,” about two dozen members from groups including Long Beach Democratic Socialist of America and Black Lives Matter said the department’s use of an app called TigerText was a violation of public trust.

The groups are pushing for the LBPD to reopen all of its cases since 2014, which is when officers started using the messaging app, city officials said.

“The use of TigerText to discard evidence is not the first time (LBPD) has been abusive,” said Dawn Modkins, a Long Beach resident and member of Black Lives Matter.

Long Beach police made national headlines last month when it was revealed that officers were communicating using self-deleting text messages, a move that critics say could have compromised hundreds of civil and criminal cases.

Luna has suspended use of the app and the city has launched an outside investigation into how it was used.

Of the 291 police department-issued mobile devices, the application was installed on 145 devices, including those for command staff and specialized details such as homicide and internal affairs.

City officials said the first purchase order for the software came in June 2014 for $9,888. The contract has been renewed each year for the past four years. Under city policy, purchases under $25,000 are approved at a departmental level.

The rally Tuesday came as city council members were in a closed session to discuss a performance evaluation for the city manager.

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].
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