“I am on the Citizen Police Complaint Commission… and the Commission is a farce”

-Opening statement from Long Beach Police Commissioner Porter Gilberg 6/5/2020

Long Beach Citizen Police Complaint Commissioner Porter Gilberg spoke for five minutes at the June 5, 2020, Harvey Milk Park Protest and laid out a blistering laundry list of problems with the Long Beach Citizens Police Complaint Commission (CPCC).  

Appointed to the CPCC by Mayor Garcia to fill a partial term in June of last year that expires in a few weeks, Gilberg started his address to the huge protest crowd assembled at Harvey Milk Park with: “My name is Porter Gilberg I am on the Citizen Police Complaint Commission… and the Commission is a farce”

That was just the beginning.  

In what could go down as a pivotal moment in Long Beach history, after his opening Gilberg would publicly acknowledge and reveal what most longtime Long Beach city government watchers and Long Beach political insiders have long known, the CPCC is a tool of the LBPD in cooperation with City Hall.

In his 5 minute  public airing, Gilberg revealed an unspoken Long Beach truth that since its creation in 1990, the CPCC has become window dressing that the cozy monied relationship between the police leadership, the police union and ambitious Long Beach politicians have long used as public relations and political cover tool.

Telling the crowd “There is no accountability for the police in Long Beach”,  Gilberg said he had been keeping very detailed notes for a year to someday share “on a day like today to tell you what a farce and joke it is. There is no accountability for the police in Long Beach.”

Gilberg went on to mention Mayor Garcia’s Thursday, June 4th references to Long Beach having the CPCC as a police oversight body and told the crowd the CPCC is not what the Mayor called it:

 “This is not an oversight body, the Mayor said yesterday at yesterday’s demonstration. This is not an oversight body. I am not on an oversight body. I am on a body that looks at police complaints, that makes recommendations, but has no decision-making power. I looked at cases of police violence and police brutality and I do not get to say one word about it. “

Gilberg then read from his notes a list of problems he cited to support his allegations that the CPCC in his words is a “farce”.   Gilberg’s stunning five minutes included telling the crowd that the CPCC monthly is required to vote to closes cases against police that they have not heard of know anything about them.  Gilberg’s 16 examples include mentions of the Mayor, the Mayor’s office staff, the City Manager, and the City Attorney.  Gilberg concludes his list with the fact that no CPCC annual report to the Mayor or City Council has been made since 2015, even though it is required by the CPCC policies.

The LB Tribune has summarized Gilberg’s list below and linked to the full Instagram video of Gilberg’s address posted on the Long Beach Black Lives Matter   account:

  1. Commissioners deliberations, how individual members voted and how the whole CPCC votes on the cases of misconduct are to be kept confidential by commission written policies and by a legal interpretation by the City Attorney.
  2. Commissioners are regularly discouraged by the CPCC staff and the City Attorney to directly speaking with community members who come to the commission to tell their stories of “extraordinary violence at the hands of Long Beach police”
  3. Commissioners are never made aware of the outcomes of the individual investigations that are brought before them and that they vote on
  4. There are no written investigative policies or procedures for investigations meaning there are no formal rules for how the commission staff conducts investigations
  5. Commissioners do not have access to all the evidence in an investigation and evidence is withheld
  6. The CPCC has no power to make decisions only recommendations
  7. The City Manager when overturning Commissioners findings of police misconduct often cite secret evidence that the Commission did not know existed
  8. The withholding of evidence in complaints brought before the CPCC is based on what the City Attorney says and is not fact, but the City takes it as fact
  9. The City Attorney’s interpretation of the law has made the subpoena power of the CPCC “useless”
  10. The CPCC has no written policy on how or why evidence is redacted from Commissioners
  11. To be on the CPCC, it is required that appointees go through a background check.  The Mayor’s office was unable to answer what is in a CPCC background check that would prevent someone from serving. That has led Gilberg to conclude there are no written policies or procedures for background checks.
  12. CPCC Commissioners are required to go on a LBPD ride-along. The LBPD does not allow anyone who has been arrested to go on a ride-along.
  13. The back-ground check and the ride-along requirement prevent “justice impacted people from participating in the very processes where their voices are the most important”
  14. The CPCC has a routinely monthly process in Open Session for the CPCC Commissioners vote to close cases of police misconduct that the Commissioners have not reviewed.
  15.  City staff assigned to the CPCC are unable to answer basic questions about police procedures and defer to the Police Department Staff for answers. The LBPD Staff participates in all CPCC meetings and are present during all deliberations.
  16. The CPCC has not submitted an annual report required by the CPCC bylaws to the Mayor and City Council since 2015

Instagram of Porter Gilberg’s address link

The scope and breadth of the Gilberg List is stunning considering Gilberg’s long resume of involvement in the community. While Gilberg is no stranger to occasionally publicly rock the boat, his resume shows he has been a long and trusted member of the Long Beach power structure. Gilberg is also a member of the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission and since 2014 has served as the Executive Director of the Long Beach LGBTQ Center. In addition, he is serving or has served on multiple task forces, boards, and projects across the city and county. 

DATA BACKS GILBERG

The data on the Long Beach Police Department from Campaign Zero’s Police Scorecard.  backs Gilberg’s allegations that the CPCC has had little influence to make changes since its addition to the City Charter by a vote of the citizens in 1990.

On the Police Scorecard the site, Long Beach’s Police Department is graded an “F” ( 19% on a 100% scale) for the most current data of 2016-2018.  The statistics provided show that of the 602 Civilian misconduct complaints against LBPD only 1 in 201 cases were ruled in favor of civilians during those two years. 

Other LPPD statistics cited by the site:

  • 52 DEADLY FORCE INCIDENTS Based on population, a Black person was 3.5x as likely and a Latinx person was 1x as likely to have deadly force used on them than a White person in Long Beach from 2016-18.
  • 39,927 ARRESTS MADE Police made 5.8x as many arrests for misdemeanors as for violent crimes in 2016-2018.
  • POLICE SHOOTINGS WHERE POLICE DID NOT ATTEMPT NON-LETHAL FORCE BEFORE SHOOTING 75% of Shootings (15/20)
  • PEOPLE KILLED OR SERIOUSLY INJURED 11 Deaths, 38 Serious Injuries; 59% were Unarmed  |  18% had a Gun
  • WHERE POLICE SAY THEY SAW A GUN BUT NO GUN WAS FOUND  36% of Guns “Perceived” were Never Found (5/14)

Of the eight policing category policies designed to limit the use of force, Police Scorecard lists Long Beach as adopting only two of the eight. Those two are related to officers using firearms: a policy to exhaust alternative to shooting before firing and warning before firing.  According to the site, LBPD has not banned chokeholds or strangleholds

City Council members react

Later in the day on Friday. June 6th the Long Beach City Council Agenda for next Tuesday’s June 9th City Council was released that included two items related to the CPCC.

Agenda Item 26 proposed by Councilmember Al Austin and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Suzie Price, Dee Andrews and Rex Richardson request the City Manager to bring back to the City Council a report within 30 days on the CPCC.  The Austin Agenda requested report calls for:

“a summary of investigations over the past 5 years, and recommendations for discussion of possible revisions to improve accountability and transparency in the relationship between the Police Department and the community.”

Agenda Item 28 is proposed by Councilman Rex Richardson and cosponsored by Councilmembers Al Austin, Dee Andrews, and Jeanene Pearce. The proposal submitted on Richardson’s office letterhead is titled Framework for Reconciliation in Long Beach.    

The 103 paged agenda item includes a copy of the expansive 2019 City of Long Beach Equitable Growth Profile Report.  The agenda document includes a recommendation for the Council to direct the City Manager to begin working toward 10 points. The first two relate to the CPCC:

• A potential ballot measure for the November 2020 General Election,

 • Reforms to modernize the Citizen Police Complaint Commission to strengthen independence, transparency, and oversight

Richardson’s agenda item also includes a resolution calling on the City Council to advance a four-part plan:

The City will advance a the four-part plan that strives to reconcile the inequalities listed above by;

  • Acknowledging racial injustice as great of a threat to our public health as a global pandemic;
  • Listening to the experiences of impacted community members, youth, and the people of the city;
  • Convening discussions with communities of color and other community stakeholders on the framework for the future, as it relates to redefining structural resiliency and redefining safety; and Catalyzing change for safer and healthier communities through budget investment in housing, jobs, education, youth development, healthcare, community centers, and open spaces.
  • Set a framework to build community trust and redefine the City’s relationship with law enforcement through transparency and reform,

The actual legal asks of Agenda Item 28 is summarized in the City Council Agenda as four actionable items:

Recommendation to request City Attorney to work with City Manager and Long Beach Office of Equity to draft a resolution that articulates the City’s commitment to adopting the “Framework for Reconciliation in Long Beach,” recognizing the need to engage in a public reconciliation process, internal policy review, and local action plan committing to the following four steps:

Request City Manager to issue a public statement condemning the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, acknowledging the existence and longstanding impacts of systemic racism in our America and in Long Beach;

Request City Manager to conduct a formal listening process to hear accounts and experiences of racial injustice, inequity, or harm of community members;

Request City Manager to convene stakeholders to evaluate the feedback from the listening process and shape policy, budgetary, charter, and programmatic reform ideas; and Request City Manager catalyze action, presenting immediate, short-term, medium-term, and long-term present recommendations for the City Council to consider.

Next Tuesday’s June 9th City Council will be held virtually and will be available to be watched with comments submitted ahead of the meeting. 

Post updated 9:12 am 6/7/20 for type corrections and correcting source with link

One thought on ““I am on the Citizen Police Complaint Commission… and the Commission is a farce””
  1. […] CheckLBPD considers the biggest problems with the CPCC to be 1) it does not use the investigative powers it was originally granted (having never called a witness under oath or issued a subpoena for documents), and 2) its decisions have no real power due to the City Manager’s veto power. The real power in misconduct investigation lies with the Chief of Police and the City Manager—the CPCC being little more than window dressing, or in the words of a CPCC commissioner “a farce.” […]

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