Public safety committee to discuss police reforms, alternative response models

The city’s public safety committee next week will focus squarely on the city’s police department and its existing rules and policies surrounding use of force.

The three-person committee will meet Wednesday, Sept. 16, when it’s slated to hear a number of presentations, including on policies for officer intervention and the department’s current use of force policies, including potential changes. It will also be presented with proposed legislation pertaining to police reforms.

State legislators this month failed to approve a number of high-profile police reform bills, including one that would have created a way to decertify bad cops and another that would have made more police personnel records available to the public.

The Long Beach committee will also hear a report on the amount of funds spent on overtime costs for the police department in the weeks after the May 31 protests in Downtown. Public records showed last month that LBPD officers racked up nearly $1 million in overtime on the night of May 31 and about $3.8 million in total overtime costs between May 31 and June 16.

The final item on the committee’s agenda includes a report on the CAHOOTS program, which could send trained crisis intervention teams out to calls that would otherwise be handled by police officers. The program has been in operation in Oregon for over three decades. The program has been pushed by some members of the community as a way for the city to decrease violent interactions between police and residents experiencing mental illness and other crises.

A feasibility analysis on if and how it could be implemented in Long Beach is expected to be given to the commission. Potential funding for the program was included in the 2021 fiscal year budget that was approved by the City Council last week.

While the items on the agenda are not slated for any action Wednesday night, they could ultimately lead to future agenda items at the City Council level. The committee is scheduled to meet at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday with the meeting being live streamed due to pandemic restrictions.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.