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City Hall Journal

LONG BEACH : Kellogg's Call to Arms Gets Guarded Response

January 13, 1994

Ask just about any candidate in April's municipal elections what the No. 1 issue is, and the likely response is crime. Nearly all have something to say on the subject and can offer a few solutions, but one that's raising eyebrows, not to mention a few hackles, is Vice Mayor Jeffrey A. Kellogg's proposal to fight crime in Long Beach by putting the National Guard on the streets.

Kellogg asked Gov. Pete Wilson to create a pilot program in which a special Guard unit would help police patrol the city every week from sunset Thursday through sunrise Sunday.

During that period, Kellogg said in a letter to the governor, Long Beach is typically patrolled by 95 squad cars with two officers in each. But it could be patrolled by 190 cars if one officer and one National Guard member teamed up in each. Kellogg also suggested that the National Guard could take over most of the duties at weekend sobriety checkpoints, freeing up more police officers.

"Long Beach has hit a crisis point, setting a new record of 137 murders in 1993. . . . Through using the guard, we can maximize the number of police officers and patrol cars on the streets protecting our neighborhoods," Kellogg wrote.

The vice mayor acknowledges that his proposal has a few glitches. The National Guard cannot arrest anyone, for example. But it could help strengthen the Long Beach Police Department, which has 1.7 officers per 1,000 residents.

Mayor Ernie Kell said he is appalled by the idea. "No. 1, the National Guard is not trained in law enforcement, and second, it sends a bad message about the city of Long Beach," Kell said. "We are not the Miami of the West Coast."

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