In the wake of protests over police brutality after the death of George Floyd, the city of Long Beach on Monday released a comprehensive report outlining more than 100 potential action plans to address longstanding racial inequalities.
The Racial Equity and Reconciliation Initiative report follows two weeks of public listening sessions to gain feedback from the community. Residents’ top priorities included: defunding the police and investing in community services, education reform in underserved areas and increasing affordable housing protections for Black residents and people of color.
Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer has prompted cities across the country to focus on police reform and racial inequality efforts. Long Beach, while a diverse city, has long struggled with systemic racism, city officials have acknowledged.
Councilman Rex Richardson, who spearheaded the plan, said Long Beach is showing its commitment to change in a critical time.
“This is an acknowledgement that it’s not enough for only some us to thrive; it’s important that all of our communities thrive,” he said. “No matter your race you should have a fair opportunity.”
The report, which will go before the City Council for approval in its regular meeting on Aug. 11, includes four main goals: end systemic racism in the city; design and invest in community safety and violence prevention; redesign the police approach to community safety; and improve health and wellness by eliminating social and economic disparities.
Some of the key potential actions include:
- Create an alternate phone number and dispatch system for non-violent emergency calls staffed by mental health professionals.
- Redesign the Citizen’s Police Complaint Commission to improve police oversight and accountability.
- Implement early intervention programs for problematic police employees.
- Create a Youth Development Office and strengthen youth mentorship programs.
- Launch classes for financial literacy to help Black people and people of color improve economic circumstances.
- Increase homeownership for people of color by creating a sustainable loan program.
Also on Monday, the city released its prospective 2020-21 budget that includes $3 million to implement some of the racial equity initiatives.
The budget plan includes a $10.3 million cut to the Long Beach Police Department, though all city departments except the health department will likely see cuts as Long Beach struggles with a $30 million budget deficit from the finance fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Amid calls from local activist to defund police, the city plans to civilianize certain functions previously handled by sworn personnel and convert 16 officer positions to civilian positions for non-violent 911 calls.
In all, more than 1,500 residents participated in 13 listening sessions and four community town halls for the racial equity initiative.
“We are committed to advancing racial equity across our city for Black, Indigenous and people of color, and this initiative is laying the foundation to pave the way,” City Manager Tom Modica said in a statement.
The City encourages community members to submit their comments on the in advance of the Aug. 11 City Council meeting at longbeach.gov/cityclerk.
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