WomenShelter Protector Award

Police Chief Robert Luna speaks while the detectives of the Long Beach Police Department's Domestic Violence Detail join him on stage in April to receive the WomenShelter Protector Award during the nonprofit's annual gala.

Violent and property crime in Long Beach in the first half of the year were down compared to 2018, a police official told a Public Safety Committee this week.

Presenting figures to a three-member committee, chaired by Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price, Long Beach Police Cmdr. Robert Smith said mid-year figures show violent crime in the city decreased by 12.2% in 2019 compared to the first half of last year.

Property crime was down 5.5 %, he said.

When compared to collective crime for the first six months of the year from 2014 to 2018, violent crime came in 12.9 percent lower and property crime had decreased 14.2 percent, Smith said.

But the number of murders has remained fairly even in recent years, with 19 through the first six months of 2019 compared with 20 last year.

Of the 19 murders through June of this year, seven were gang-related — two more than the first six months of last year — with the majority occurring in Central and North Long Beach, Smith said.

The Police Department’s analysts are always considering any meaningful trends with gangs.

“We’re always looking for… issues like that so we can address them per division,” the commander said.

Price, a deputy district attorney in Orange County, pointed to preventative outreach, community policing, building trust with the community, and a proactive approach by the department in targeting problems and tackling them as reasons for the decreased numbers.

“It’s interesting, because for all of us (council members) who go out into the community, we often get hit with, ‘Police numbers are down, why don’t we have more officers?’" Price said. “When we look back at a time where we had more officers, our numbers were not as good as they are now, so to me it shows we’re working smarter.”

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