Calls for Community Participation in Selection of LBPD Chief
By Dianne Anderson
Deadlines loom in the recruitment and selection of a new police chief in Long Beach, which is expected to happen by the end of the year.
As part of the push for community participation, a city community input survey is now circulating via social media.
Local business owner Senay Kenfe saw and completed the city’s survey, but stressed that he wasn’t impressed that the questions adequately addressed the major issues, or is even enough to engage the public. He is more concerned about the key points that he didn’t see in the poll lineup.
One top goal for the incoming chief should involve more attention to local hiring within the department, he said, adding that many police officers reside in Orange County or the Inland Empire. Only a handful of Long Beach police officers are Black.
“That’s not respectable to culture. I think more African Americans need to be hired,” said Kenfe, who was born and raised in Long Beach, and has been active with several nonprofit organizations, including organizing around fair housing.
“Nationwide, the number of Blacks within law enforcement is declining for obvious reasons, and those positions are not being filled by younger Black people. It furthers the divide,” he added.
Kenfe also hopes for community policing strategies that are built into structural policies. Like many cities, he said the city’s police oversight commission has no teeth and lacks real enforcement. He also wants more attention to the continuing impact of police overtime compensation on the city’s budget.
He wants to see a watchdog.
“A lot of the budget goes toward lifetime pensions, it does a lot of damage to what the city as a whole can do. We have people who made $90,000 on salaries, but $125,000 on overtime, and up,” he said.
Another aspect is how the survey data will be used in the selection, especially if it is not adequately representing the community. In other data collections in the city, he is concerned that community participation is low, which also can skew input.
“For example, they only had 101 community responses submitted with redistricting, and that’s a process that impacts over 480,000 people. Anyone else would say that we can’t use the data to make an assessment,” he said.
Last month, the city opened its survey online and local public libraries for community access that will help guide the selection of the new chief. The survey closes on November 4.
The new chief replaces outgoing Chief Robert G. Luna, who is retiring in December. The City Manager stated that the recruitment process allows for internally and externally qualified candidates, including all current and former LBPD personnel ranked as commander and above. They are also inviting chiefs, assistant and deputy chiefs from other jurisdictions, preferably those who have worked in California.
The recruitment process closes at 11:59 on November 7.
“I’m looking forward to selecting a new Chief who will take our Police Department to the next level, meeting the public safety needs of our diverse community and embracing transparency, modern policing and community partnership,” City Manager Tom Modica said. “We have a strong internal talent pool, and as a major California city, I’m sure we will get interest from leaders with major credentials from across the State and Country.”
Joe Ambrosini, Director of Human Resources, said that the panel members for the selection process should be set by the end of this week.
“We are anticipating the selection of the new Chief to be in December. Official start date would depend on completion of new hire onboarding processes and any notice the candidate would provide their current employer, if applicable,” he wrote in an email.
Ambrosini said that the Community Survey, which was developed by the Human Resources department, and approved by the City Manager, is one of the guiding factors in the selection of the new chief.
Advertisement has been through various avenues, he said, including job flyers and associations with large diverse audiences.
On the question of how many African Americans have responded to the job, he said that when the recruitment process is complete, the city can provide, upon request, the total number of all qualified candidates.
“The City is finalizing a diverse panel that will provide guidance and feedback regarding the skillsets of qualifying candidates,” he said.
To fill out the survey, see https://forms.office.com/g/phGLZRNrDg.