Written Testimony to Long Beach City Council: Stephen Downing | LEAP
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Written Testimony to Long Beach City Council: Stephen Downing

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September 9, 2014
Long Beach, CA, United States

LONG BEACH CITY COUNCIL: Agenda Item # 9. 14-0703, September 9, 2014

It is strongly recommended that the City Council deny the recommendation of the Police Department to allow participation in the California Public Safety Procurement (CPSPP) Program for the 5-year period from July 31, 2014 to July 30, 2019 as written in the letter of transmittal from the Police Department.

The CPSPP Program is nothing more than a pass-though system that allows local law enforcement to acquire military grade equipment from the Pentagon under the now infamous Federal 1033 Excess Property Program recently exposed nationwide as a major catalyst contributing to the Militarization of local law enforcement across the Nation.

As written, the recommendation to participate provides no civilian oversight related to future decision making by the police department as to the types of military surplus equipment that the police department will undertake to acquire over the next five  years.

City government should position itself to require a system of review, recommendation and public hearings on the specific types of equipment that the Police Department undertakes to acquire over the next five years so as to measure public sentiment and avoid the kinds of abuses exposed these past weeks as a result of national attention focused upon Ferguson, MO.

The methodology set out in the letter of recommendation for acquisition of military equipment under this program is left entirely to the whim of the police department absent council review and public discussion of its intended use, standards of deployment, training requirements, impact upon public perception and community relations or related maintenance costs.

In its letter of recommendation the police department outlines the equipment it has acquired since 2005 by providing specific examples such as a Boston Whaler Boat and a Ford diesel pickup truck, but then abandons specificity when describing past acquisitions as:  “”tactical equipment used to support existing operations.”

The Long Beach community and members of its governing body should be kept informed of equipment acquired from the Pentagon in order to monitor and avoid further militarization of our police.

Today, the former chief of police of Seattle, Norm Stamper, testified before the United States Senate on this subject.  His introductory statement was as follows:

Something has gone terribly wrong with American policing. Never wholeheartedly embraced by a freedom-loving people, the institution recently has suffered a major blow to its image, and to community-police relations. Thanks in part to the federal government’s 1033 Program, which furnishes Department of Defense military surplus to city and county law enforcement, we have seen a rapid and massive expansion in the militarization of local policing exemplified by, but not limited to, the tragedy that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri this August. This trend is disturbing in the extreme, and must be reversed in the interests of public safety and community support for law enforcement.

Let us in Long Beach protect ourselves from the further militarization of our police and work toward creating an image of “Peace Officer” rather than “Warrior” within our police department.

Please oppose the recommendation from the Police Department as written.  Let us become a part of reversing the alarming trend of police militarization in the interest of public safety and community support for law enforcement.

Thank You,

Stephen Downing
Deputy Chief, LAPD (ret.)
Long Beach Resident.

Chief Stampers full testimony can be read here: