Crime is up in Long Beach, Calif., and some officials there are calling for the hiring of more police officers, a rarity in this era of budget deficits, reports the Contra Costa Times. The need to hire more officers has been debated for the past several years, but the issue came to a head last week with the city announcing a 9.4 percent increase in Part 1 crimes in 2011. The spike follows several years of declines: 2010 saw a 40-year record low in the same crime category, which includes violent and property crimes.
Some had predicted that continual cuts to the Police Department budget would translate to a rise in crime. Police have experienced at least a 15 percent loss of sworn officers since 2009, the department’s highest staffing point of close to 1,000 officers. The most vocal in this camp is Steve James, president of the Long Beach Police Officers Association, the union that represents nonmanagement members of the force. James says budget cuts and the elimination of police academies in recent years have led to an elimination of discretionary overtime for most detective divisions, and a backlog in investigative responses to cases.