Long Beach City Council approves purchase of 425 more police body cameras

Council also seeking to prohibit no-fault notices and no-fault evictions.



At its Nov. 5 meeting, the Long Beach City Council presented U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal with a key to the city. Pictured from left are Lowenthal and Mayor Robert Garcia.

At its Nov. 5 meeting, the Long Beach City Council discussed ambulance vacancies, requested the city attorney draft an urgency ordinance to address a policy gap in Assembly Bill 1482 and approved the purchase of 425 more body-worn cameras for police officers.

The following are some highlights of the meeting.

Alan Lowenthal
Mayor Robert Garcia presented U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal with a key to the city. Before serving in Congress, Lowenthal had served on the Long Beach City Council, the state assembly and the state senate.

“As a legislator, Congressman Lowenthal has been defined [as] someone who has always stood up for those that didn’t have a voice,” Garcia said. “He always stood up for the community and single-handedly led efforts to not just reform our government across the state, but also here locally, at home.”

Ambulance vacancies
The council heard a report on the status of basic life support (BLS) ambulance vacancies and requested that the acting city manager explore and implement solutions to restore BLS 12 and 13 to daily service as soon as possible and prepare a long-term plan that addresses staffing shortages for emergency medical technicians.

Fire Chief Xavier Espino explained that recent staffing shortages in ambulance-operating positions have caused a change in the staffing model for BLS deployment.

“On Oct. 18, 2019, after having met and conferred with both the International Association of Machinists and the Long Beach Firefighters Association, Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) elected to stop using mandatory overtime for ambulance operators to staff one of the city’s two daytime BLS units,” Espino said. “If full-time employees are available, or part-time employees have signed up to work, this unit will be staffed. This action was taken to provide temporary relief to the remaining full-time ambulance operators who are being required to work an excessive number of additional hours to fill the vacancies.”

He said the LBFD provides two transport methods for those who have called 9-1-1 for medical emergencies: critical patients, such as those suffering from a heart attack or stroke, are transported to a local emergency room by paramedics in one of the fire department’s nine advanced life-support rescue units; and patients not requiring immediate medical attention but require or request transport to a local emergency room are taken by one of the LBFD’s emergency ambulances.

He then provided specific information regarding which transport units are housed at which fire stations, as well as information about the hiring process and training academies for the emergency personnel.

“Currently, the LBFD is experiencing a shortage of BLS personnel, as many fire departments are hiring for fire positions, in addition to ambulance-operator companies,” Espino said. “The shortage is limited to LBFD’s ability to cover all shifts on the 12-hour BLS ambulances.”

He explained the reductions in daily staffing are temporary and will be in place until the fire department is able to hire a sufficient number of ambulance operators, which is expected to occur in January 2020.

Acting City Manager Tom Modica said the City will be reviewing various options for meeting appropriate staffing levels.

“We don’t like to be in this situation,” Modica said. “We always want to have full staffing whenever possible. It does happen in an organization our size, and, in this case, it’s just a small, limited pool that can do that job. So, we will be taking this seriously and trying to plan those academies so that this doesn’t happen in the future.”

AB 1482
In response to Assembly Bill 1482, the council voted 8-0 to request that the city attorney draft an urgency ordinance, for review at the Nov. 12, 2019 city council meeting, to prohibit no-fault notices and no-fault evictions through Dec. 31, 2019.

Ninth District Councilmember Rex Richardson explained that AB 1482, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Oct. 8, will primarily focus on four areas, beginning in January 2020.

“Number one, it puts a cap on annual rent increases,” Richardson said. “It limits evictions without cause in the state of California. It offers relocation assistance or rent waivers in certain no-fault cases. It sets noticing requirements to ensure tenants are communicated with throughout the whole process, and it sunsets in the year 2030.”

Richardson said that, although the law is well intended, it has created a significant policy gap that has placed residents at risk.

“The time between when the bill was approved by the legislature and the day the bill goes into law creates an unintended incentive for landlords to get ahead of this law […] by raising rents [in] sort of a flurry- a frenzy- of increased rents or 60-day notices,” Richardson said.

Body-worn cameras
The council voted to authorize the acting city manager to execute documents necessary to amend a contract with Axon Enterprises, Inc., of Scottsdale, Arizona, for the purchase of body-worn camera equipment, accessories, software, support and digital-video storage, to increase the annual amount by $772,728, with a 10% contingency in the amount of $77,273, for a total amount not to exceed $850,001, and extend the term for an additional year, with the option to renew for four additional one-year periods, at the discretion of the city manager. The vote also authorized a one-time purchase of body-worn camera equipment and accessories in the amount of $605,694, with a 10% contingency of $60,569, for a total not to exceed amount of $666,264.

Police Chief Robert Luna said his department has undergone several trials of such equipment, one of which was not successful.

“The current one that we have, as far as we can see, is working out well for us,” Luna told the council members. “Currently, we have 250 body-worn cameras deployed, between two patrol divisions- north and south. The proposal in front of you today would increase that to 675 body-worn cameras, which would cover about 80% of our sworn personnel.”

The council approved the motion by a 7-0 vote.

The Long Beach City Council meets at 5pm on Tuesdays, with the exception of the last Tuesday of the month, in council chambers in the civic center plaza, 411 W. Ocean Blvd.