After months of increases, gun violence further intensified in Long Beach at the beginning of this year.
There was a shooting nearly every day in January, with most days counting more than one. And more people were wounded by the bullets than in any other month over the past five years, according to data obtained by the Long Beach Post through a public records request.
In total, police in Long Beach responded to 57 shootings in January, 24 of which involved a person being injured or killed.
The number of shootings in the city has been increasing since June, with a slight dip during the remaining summer months before surging to levels not seen in the past five years in the winter months. Police data shows this trend has continued, with January surpassing December’s numbers. Complete data for February was not immediately available.
Police say they’re in the process of assembling a team to assist detectives and patrol officers in shooting cases, both through community engagement on the scene and in the investigations that follow.
“The sole purpose of the team is to reduce the violent crime in the city,” department spokeswoman Arantxa Chavarria said of the team, which will include officers, detectives, a public information officer and a crime analyst.
In the short term, the team will be assisting with the investigation of open cases of gun violence, as well as the seizure of “ghost guns”—weapons without serial numbers—and interactions with victims, witnesses and the community at large at shooting scenes, according to Chavarria.
In the long term, police are hoping to partner with community groups and other city departments to address the underlying causes of gun violence. “We truly believe that public safety is beyond just law enforcement,” Chavarria said.
In a virtual meeting on Friday, community activists, clergy and city council members—among others—also discussed strategies to combat gun violence in Long Beach, arriving at a similar conclusion.
“We cannot have a thriving, safe and healthy community if we don’t start investing in the right way,” said Kenny Green, crisis intervention specialist with local nonprofit Centro CHA.
Like many of his fellow speakers, Green called for alternatives to policing as a solution for rising gun violence, investing in mental-health resources and expanding economic opportunities instead.
“We gotta start getting innovative,” Green said.