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Coffee with the Commander Update: Well-attended meeting at Grounds Café and Bakery

October 21’s Coffee with the Commander moved to its next rotation at Grounds. In attendance were Commander Cynthia Renaud, 5 th  District Councilmember Gerrie Schipske, Battalion 2 Chief Tom Kiesewetter, Julie Maleki from 2 nd  District Councilmember Gary DeLong’s office, and Josh Butler from Councilmember Schipske’s office. The meeting was well attended; about 30 residents attended and enjoyed mango and raspberry smoothies served up by Regina Walter, Grounds' proprietor.

Commander Renaud said that Billy Quach, a longtime veteran of the LBPD, is the interim police chief for three to six months while the City of Long Beach selects a replacement for Chief Anthony Batts, who left to be Oakland’s new chief earlier this month. East Division residents will remember Billy Quach as our commander two leaders removed. He’s also served in North and West divisions as commander and in just about every other department in the LBPD. The commander said that several LBPD commanders and deputies will probably apply for the position. Commander Renaud described Quach as a person who listens to the community’s concerns and issues and takes them quite seriously.

Commander Renaud reported on the month’s crime trends for the East Division. Again, most of the crimes are auto and residential burglaries; the commander saw a link between these crimes and the bad economy. Commander Renaud said that untraceable items have been seen at various times e-fenced on Craig’s List, and that when people are convicted, the punishment isn’t particularly harsh or long.

“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this situation,” she said. The commander advised several ounces of prevention: taking anything valuable out of the car when it’s parked; not leaving anything, not even a newspaper, in plain sight; and lock the car. Thefts generally include electronic devices and purses. In the neighborhood, keep houses and windows locked and air conditioners bolted on the inside of the window. She also said to be particularly suspicious of door-to-door magazine and candy sellers and of people offering to paint your curb. As Grace Early of the Eldorado Park Association said, “No more at the door!”

The commander also said that burglars often work in crews of two or more—one to act as lookout and the other to break in. Sometimes, she said, someone will knock on a door to see if anyone’s at home; if there’s no answer, the burglar will assume an empty house and break in. She advised that anyone seeing anything suspicious, particularly on Halloween, to be the little old lady next door and call the police.

The commander and Councilmember Schipske answered residents’ concerns about problems in their neighborhoods. Most of the comments involved scavengers in dumpsters and recycling bins, and noise and inappropriate behavior from bars at closing time, including vomiting and urinating in the street and on private property. One business owner reported a couple of incidences of dry ice bombs thrown at the back of the owner’s business, which presents a physical danger.

Proliferation of medical marijuana clinics, which may or may not be described as medical, has caused a budding problem, so to speak, and is sowing seeds of discontent, so to speak, in neighborhoods. Several residents don’t want growers or sellers in residential neighborhoods and, as with all businesses, the burgeoning green and otherwise, the clinics need to be licensed and regulated.

Councilmember Schipske said she recognized the existence of a problem and said that the courts and other city entities are trying to work it out.

“I will put this on my front burner—so to speak,” Schipske said.

Next month’s meeting will be at Grounds Café and Bakery, 6277 East Spring St. near Palo Verde in the Albertson’s Center. The topic will be an interesting one: Lt. Gary Christensen from the Detective Division Detectives will be on hand to discuss the Detective Decentralization program and how the East Division has gained a number of detectives who are actively working cases throughout the division.  We hope you can join us.

By Kate Karp