Long Beach leaders to discuss changes in police use of force, discipline of officers

City leaders next week will discuss possible changes to police use-of-force policies, as well as reforms to an advisory commission that reviews citizen complaints against police.

The actions, outlined in a memo by 4 members of the City Council, come during the 6th day of protests calling for police reforms after video showed a white police officer suffocating George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

“Long Beach, communities across the country, and those beyond our borders are awakened and speaking out about the gross injustice of the treatment of blacks in America,” according to the memo from councilmembers Rex Richardson, Jeannine Pearce, Dee Andrews and Al Austin.

The “framework for reconciliation” they propose could include a ballot measure for the 2020 General Election dealing with racial equity and community safety, youth diversion programs, reforms to hiring and discipline of police officers, and budgeting practices.

Any changes to the Citizen Police Complaint Commission, passed by a charter amendment in 1990, would need to be placed on a future ballot beyond November due to noticing requirements, Richardson said. The commission investigates police complaints, largely behind closed doors, but can be overruled by the city manager.

The memo also calls on the city manager to acknowledge the existence and longstanding impacts of systemic racism in America and in Long Beach, and to launch a formal listening process to hear accounts of racial injustice from the public.

Changing the culture in Long Beach will take long, sustained action and commitment, Richardson said.

“This is going to be a hard conversation,” he said. “But this is going to be one of those moments in our city that we look back on if we get it right.”

The City Council meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday via teleconference.

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Melissa has been a journalist for over two decades, starting her career as a reporter covering health and religion and moving into local news. She has worked as an editor for eight years, including seven years at the Press Telegram before joining the Long Beach Post in June 2018. She also serves as a part-time lecturer at Cal State Long Beach where she teaches multimedia journalism and writing.
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